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 that was believed to be from the Chinese-made Y-8-200F transport plane was also found, the statement said. The main body of the plane has not yet been found.The plane disappeared after taking off from the coastal town of Myeik.
Authorities provided varying totals of the number of people onboard, ranging from 104 to 122. The route was a typical weekly flight, with scheduled stops at a number of towns along the way, according to Reuters. Just 29 minutes after takeoff, contact with the aircraft was lost – it was reportedly flying at an altitude of 18,000 feet and was about 20 miles west of the town of Dawei.
The reason for the crash remains unclear. There has so far been no report of a mayday call and the dispersed nature of the wreckage suggests it could have broken up in mid air.
Although it is monsoon season in Myanmar, there were no reports of bad weather at that time. The plane was purchased from China in March last year and had logged 809 flying hours, according to the military.
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.