An-12 Freighter Carrying Landmines Crashes in Greece

The Antonov airplane belonged to a Ukrainian cargo airline.

A Meridian An-12 cargo plane at the Kaunas, Lithuania, airport Nov. 7, 2021. [File photo: Shutterstock]

A Soviet-built propeller cargo airplane operated by a small Ukrainian airline crashed in northern Greece late Saturday with a 12.5-ton load of Serbian munitions destined for Bangladesh, according to officials and media accounts. All eight crew members on board the Meridian cargo airline were killed.

The Antonov An-12, a four-engine turboprop, was heading from Niš, Serbia, to Amman, Jordan, for a refueling stop, when it went down about 40 kilometers (21.6 nm) west of the Kavala airport (LGKV) after the pilot radioed about problems with one of the engines, according to FlightRadar24. 

Local eyewitnesses said the airplane was on fire as it descended. The Ukrainian foreign ministry confirmed that all of the dead were Ukrainian nationals.

Serbian defense officials said the freighter was transporting Serbian-made landmines, mortar shells, and other weaponry to Bangladesh, the BBC and other media sources reported.

Greek authorities warned people to stay in their homes because of concerns about chemical fumes and explosions from the destroyed cargo.

The aircraft that went down was more than 50 years old. An-12s were originally built by the Antonov Design Bureau, located in Kyiv, Ukraine, as a medium-range cargo and paratroop transport aircraft for the Soviet air force.

Eric is the Air Cargo Market Editor at FreightWaves. An award-winning business journalist with extensive experience covering the logistics sector, Eric spent nearly two years as the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Automotive News, where he focused on regulatory and policy issues surrounding autonomous vehicles, mobility, fuel economy and safety. He has won two regional Gold Medals from the American Society of Business Publication Editors for government coverage and news analysis, and was voted best for feature writing and commentary in the Trade/Newsletter category by the D.C. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. As associate editor at American Shipper Magazine for more than a decade, he wrote about trade, freight transportation and supply chains. Eric is based in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached for comments and tips at

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