Myanmar military plane missing with 120 aboard; debris found

June 7 (UPI) — Searchers found debris from a military transport plane carrying 120 people that disappeared after taking off in southern Myanmar late Wednesday, a local official said.

The Chinese-made Shaanxi Y-8 turboprop plane included 106 passengers — most military personnel’s family members — and a crew of 14, said Gen. Myat Min Oo, a military spokesman. It was en route from Myeik Air Base to Yangon, a distance of about 350 miles — a flight path that would have taken the plane over the Andaman Sea, the office of the commander in chief, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, said in a statement.

“Now they have found pieces of the damaged plane in the sea 136 miles away from Dawei city,” Naing Lin Zaw, a tourism official in Myeik, told Al Jazeera.

The commander’s office said six navy ships and three military aircraft were searching for the missing plane in the Andaman Sea.

“The military plane went missing and lost contact after it took off from Myeik, and now the military has started a sea and air search with naval ships and military aircraft and is preparing for rescue operations,” the spokesman said in a statement.

The flight took off from Myeik at 1:06 p.m. and contact was lost at 1:35 p.m., the military said. It was believed to be about 20 miles to the west of Dawei, formerly known as Tavoy.

The plane took off in bad weather in Myeik, also known as Mergui, where it’s the monsoon season.

The missing plane logged 809 flying hours since it was acquired in March 2016, the military said. The Y-8, which has four propellers, is mainly used for transport, reconnaissance, and search and rescue.

The Shaanxi Y-8, which is an unlicensed Chinese copy of the Soviet Antonov An-12, conducted
its maiden flight in 1974.

Last year in Myanmar, all five crew died when an air force plane burst into flames soon after taking off from Naypyidaw.

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