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Body count grows, but no sign of missing plane

(China Daily) Updated: 2017-06-10 07:15

Body count grows, but no sign of missing plane

Soldiers carry dead bodies from a crashed military plane in Launglon, Myanmar, on Thursday.Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters

YANGON/SANLAN, Myanmar - The tally of retrieved bodies rose to 31 on Friday as Myanmar's hunt for a military transport plane that went missing over the Andaman Sea with 122 people on board stretched into a third day.

Heavy rains and churning seas hampered search efforts for victims of Wednesday's incident. Eight navy ships and sonar systems had joined the search, along with 20 civilian boats in stormy weather off the southern coast, the military said.

"We have not received any information about survivors," said Phyu Phyu Win, a regional social welfare and relief official. "Hopefully someone has survived."

Scores of soldiers were poised to assist if more bodies are carried ashore in the fishing village of Sanlan, about 600 kilometers from Myanmar's largest city, Yangon.

The bodies of 23 adults and eight children have been recovered from the Andaman Sea near the coastal town of Launglon since rescue efforts began on Wednesday, the military said.

By morning, swelling waters covered Sanlan beach, where hundreds of people gathered on Thursday to watch the first bodies being brought to shore wrapped in plastic bags.

Fisherman Min Oo said he helped carry the bodies in his boat from navy ships, which could not get close to the beach.

"I felt sorry when I saw the bags," he said. "I have a family as well".

Soldiers, family members and crew were on board when the weekly flight to Yangon went missing.

The China-made Y-8F-200W transport plane lost contact 29 minutes after takeoff at an altitude of 5,500 meters over the Andaman Sea, about 70 km 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 on Thursday. Some patches of oil were also spotted, the military said.

The cause of the incident has yet to be confirmed.

State-owned China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation, maker of the plane, has said it would assist Myanmar authorities in the investigation into the crash.

Survivors are unlikely more than 24 hours after the plane lost contact, despite warm sea temperatures, experts have said.

Many bodies had fragmented into several pieces and no victim wearing a life jacket has yet been recovered, said a member of the emergency team.

Aircraft accidents, involving both civilian and military planes, are not uncommon in Myanmar.

A military helicopter crashed last June in central Myanmar, killing three military personnel.

Five were killed in February last year when an air force aircraft crashed in the capital, Naypyitaw, media said.

Reuters - Afp

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