YANGON (Reuters) - The search for a missing military aircraft off the southern coast of Myanmar entered a second day on Thursday after the plane vanished over the Andaman Sea with 122 soldiers, family members and crew on board.
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, 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.
“We haven’t found any sign of the plane,” Win Myat Aye, minister for social welfare, relief and resettlement, told Reuters on Thursday. He said local government officials were cooperating with the army to search for the missing aircraft.
Nine navy ships, five military planes and two helicopters were mobilized on Thursday to search for the missing aircraft, the army said in its latest news release.
Some 500 people, including medics and emergency officials, continued the search on the shore near the town of Launglon, close to the area where the naval search was concentrated, according a policeman and member of a local funeral association.
The plane lost contact 29 minutes after takeoff while flying at 18,000 feet (5,485 metres) over the sea, about 43 miles (70 km) west of the town of Dawei, the military said.
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.
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.
Reporting By Wa Lone and Shoon Naing; Writing by Yimou Lee; Editing by Michael Perry