All eight crew members of a cargo plane that crashed near the Greek city of Kavala died in the accident, Serbia’s defence minister said on Sunday.

The Ukrainian-operated Antonov An-12 was carrying mines and around 11 tonnes of weapons to Bangladesh when it crashed on Saturday night, minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said.

Videos shared by eyewitnesses on social media showed the plane engulfed by a giant fireball as it hit the ground.

The plane had taken off from Nis airport in Serbia at around 8:40 pm (1840 GMT) on Saturday, carrying weapons owned by private Serbian company Valir, he said.

Greek media said it had requested clearance to make an emergency landing at Kavala airport but had not managed to reach it.

Greek rescue services were using a drone on Sunday to monitor the wreckage of the aircraft as fears about the toxicity of the cargo were forcing them to keep at a distance.

State-run TV said the army, explosives experts and Greek Atomic Energy Commission staff would approach the crash site once it was deemed safe.

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