Bodies, debris found in search for missing Myanmar aircraft

By Reuters   June 7, 2017 | 10:48 pm PT
The weather had been 'normal' on takeoff.

Bodies and aircraft debris were found in the sea off the southern coast of Myanmar on Thursday by a navy ship searching for a military plane which went missing with 122 soldiers, family members and crew on board.

Three bodies, including two adults and a child, were found some 35 km (22 miles) from the southern coastal town of Launglon, the military said in a statement on its official Facebook page.

A plane wheel, two life jackets and some bags with clothes - believed to be from the missing Chinese-made Y-8-200F transport plane - were also found, the statement said, adding the military search will continue.

The Chinese-made Y-8-200F transport plane vanished on early Wednesday afternoon after takeoff from the coastal town of Myeik on a weekly military flight.

The plane lost contact 29 minutes after takeoff while flying at 18,000 feet (5,485 meters) over the Andaman Sea, about 43 miles (70 km) west of the town of Dawei, the military said.

The plane, heading north to Myanmar's largest city Yangon, carried 122 passengers, including 108 soldiers and their family members and 14 crew. Among them were 15 children, 58 adults and 35 soldiers and officers, according to a military statement.

Nine navy ships, five military planes and two helicopters were mobilized on Thursday to search for the missing aircraft.

It is monsoon season in Myanmar, but a civil aviation official said the weather had been "normal" with good visibility when the plane took off.

The aircraft was bought in March 2016 and had a total of 809 flying hours. It was carrying 2.4 tons of supplies, the military said.

Nicknamed "air camel" in Chinese, the multi-purpose aircraft was approved for production in 1980 and is still being produced by Shaanxi Aircraft Corporation, a unit of state-owned Aviation Industry Corp of China. The four-spoke turboprop is used in countries including China and Sudan.

Aircraft incidents, both civilian and military, are not uncommon in the Southeast Asian country. A military helicopter crashed last June in central Myanmar, killing three military personnel on board.

Five military personnel were killed last February after an air force aircraft crashed in the country's capital, Naypyitaw, according to media reports. Two people were killed and 11 injured after a small plane crashed in central Myanmar in 2012.

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