Myanmar military plane crash: Downpour delays rescue efforts as search for survivors continues

Heavy rains fell Friday morning as ships and fishermen searched the waters off Myanmar's coast where a military plane carrying 122 people, including 15 children, crashed two days earlier.

AP June 09, 2017 11:17:42 IST
Myanmar military plane crash: Downpour delays rescue efforts as search for survivors continues

San Hlan, Myanmar: Heavy rains fell Friday morning as ships and fishermen searched the waters off Myanmar's coast where a military plane carrying 122 people, including 15 children, crashed two days earlier.

Fishermen were using their nets to search in the water, and navy ships using sonar and military aircraft were searching as well, the military commander in chief's office said.

The plane had taken off from Myeik, also known as Mergui, and was heading for Yangon on a route over the Andaman Sea. It was raining, but not heavily, when contact was lost Wednesday afternoon as the plane was southwest of the city of Dawei, formerly known as Tavoy.

Myanmar military plane crash Downpour delays rescue efforts as search for survivors continues

A Y-8-200 F military aircraft. Reuters

During Thursday's search, monsoon downpours drenched rescue workers and people gathered on the beach at San Hlan village in Laung Lone township, which was a landing point for recovery operations.

The bodies, fetched from the sea by large fishing vessels and navy ships, were moved to smaller boats that hauled them into shallow water at the beach, where soldiers put the body bags on stretchers and carried them to waiting trucks. The heavy rain and choppy seas delayed the efforts.

The bodies of 31 people — 21 women, eight children, and two men — had been recovered as of Thursday night, as well as luggage and airplane parts, according to a military Facebook page. The bodies were being taken to a military hospital in Dawei where some victims' relatives visited.

One of them, Ma Mon, said her 32-year-old daughter Zin Wai Aung had been married to a military officer, but had gone on the flight without him.

"She went on the plane with her 3-month-old son. Both of them died," she said. "That was my beautiful grandson."

Many of the passengers were relatives of military personnel. Booking civilians on military planes is a common way to offset transportation costs for military personnel stationed in Myanmar's remote south.

The four-engine Chinese-made Y-8 turboprop aircraft had been received in March last year and since had logged 809 flying hours. The pilot and co-pilot both had more than 3,100 hours of flying experience and the plane was carrying about 2.4 tons of cargo, according to the military Facebook page that was the main source of official information about the crash.

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