Bodies and debris found after airplane crash off Myanmar

Reuters, YANGON, Myanmar

Fri, Jun 09, 2017 - Page 6

Bodies and aircraft debris were found in the sea off the southern coast of Myanmar yesterday by ships searching for a military plane that went missing with 122 soldiers, family members and crew onboard.

Ten bodies — six adults and four children — were found about 35km off the southern coastal town of Launglon by navy and civilian ships, the military said in a statement on Facebook.

The search by nine navy ships, five military planes and two helicopters was to continue with help from civilian boats, it said.

Contact was lost with the Chinese-made Y-8-200F transport plane on Wednesday after it took off from the coastal town of Myeik on a weekly flight to Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon.

The plane lost contact 29 minutes after takeoff while flying at 5,485m over the Andaman Sea, about 70km west of the town of Dawei, the military said.

An aircraft wheel, two life jackets and some bags with clothes believed to be from the missing plane were found earlier.

Some patches of oil were spotted about 16 nautical miles (30km) from Dawei, the military said.

More than 40 ambulances and scores of medics and emergency staff were heading to the fishing town of Sanlan, where boats carrying bodies were to arrive at about midday, said Hla Thein, a member of a hospital emergency team.

The plane was carrying 122 passengers, including 108 soldiers, family members and 14 crew.

The military said the 108 passengers included 15 children, 58 adults and 35 soldiers.

It is the rainy 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 last year and had a total of 809 flying hours, the military said.

Nicknamed the “air camel” in Chinese, the multipurpose aircraft was approved for production in 1980 and is still being produced by Shaanxi Aircraft Corp, a unit of state-owned Aviation Industry Corp of China.