Late Saturday night, Ukrainian company Meridian Flight (only flying for Meridian as of this year) lost an aircraft and crew in northern Greece. The Antonov An-12BK, as flight # MEM3032, encountered problems with one of its engines and had turned around to make an emergency landing when it went down.
Ukrainian Cargo Plane Crashed in Northern Greece
Saturday evening, local time, flight MEM3032 took off from Nis, Serbia enroute to Bangladesh via Amman, Jordan. There were 8 crew members onboard and the cargo was 12 tons of munitions, mortars that Serbia said were “illuminating mortar mines and training mines” headed for Bangladesh. The aircraft, an Antonov An-12BK was 51 years old.
Unfortunately, shortly after crossing over the Greek land and over the Aegean Sea, the pilot said there was a problem with one of the engines. He was offered emergency landings at either Thessaloniki airport or Kavala airport since both were the nearby airports. Being slightly closer to Kavala, the pilot chose that airport and headed back. The eyewitness reports, including the Twitter post below, spoke of the engine being on fire before its crash.
#BREAKING: UR-CIC, an Antonov An-12TB cargo aircraft of Meridian Ltd from #Ukraine with flight No. #MEM3032 crashed near #Kavala in #Greece on its way from Nis to Amman! Locals filmed the moment of crash. It was burning when it hit the ground! Engine fire had spread to the wing👇 pic.twitter.com/LQNOEbz1Yd
— Babak Taghvaee – The Crisis Watch (@BabakTaghvaee1) July 16, 2022
The plane made it back over land but crashed about 25 miles west of the Kavala airport. The crash happened before 11PM local time. This happened just a couple of hours east of where I was but I only heard about it from friends shortly after the crash. The crash happened between two Greek villages on farmland and nearby residents heard continuing explosions for up to 2 hours after the crash. They and the emergency responders also noticed white power in the air, which the nuclear response team said was not radioactive.
Emergency services put a 400 meter cordon around the area and expanded it yesterday (Sunday) morning as little was known about what the cargo was exactly and responding units and residents claimed to smell a very strong and strange smell. Residents were told to stay indoors with doors and windows closed and wear masks when going outside.
Yesterday morning, the Greek Joint Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Defense Unit worked with fire responders to clear ways to the crash site. Residents are being told to continue to keep distance from the fields for now since there are likely many more unexploded ordnance that had been leftover from the crash.
Unfortunately, all 8 crew members (which the Ukrainian consul confirmed were all Ukrainian) perished in the crash and have since had their bodies recovered.. The plane’s fuselage had dragged along the ground for about 190 yards and then disintegrated.
I normally do not write about plane crashes but this was happened not far from me and in an area that I am quite familiar with (I have driven very near this crash area at least a dozen times) so I had been following the story a lot and talking with people and decided to share it here as well. My prayers are with the families of those 8 crew members that perished in this crash.
Featured image is the Antonov An-12, photo taken by https://www.flickr.com/photos/awilson154/51992885176/–