German investigators have opened an inquiry after a fire destroyed an Antonov An-12 freighter at Leipzig-Halle airport.

Images show that the four-engined transport's fuselage was completely gutted. The aircraft had been loaded with chickens.

The fire closed the airport for around 50min from 02:08, says the airport's operator, as emergency services - including 15 large fire-response vehicles and 60 personnel - attended the scene.

German investigation authority BFU says the aircraft was Ukrainian-registered, but under local laws is unable to release any operator or airframe identification data.

Initial indications, says BFU, suggest the incident occurred as the aircraft was being prepared for departure, but its planned route has yet to be confirmed.

The authority has had investigators on the scene since 06:00 but is unable to confirm whether it has already retrieved the flight recorders.

BFU is yet to confirm the number of crew members on board, but says all of them were able to escape the fire. The airport operator says passenger traffic was not affected by the event.

German police have also been at the site, in a cargo section of the airport, to help establish whether there was any criminal link to the blaze.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news