Myanmar: plane goes missing with 120 on board

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(The Guardian) A military transport plane with 120 people on board has gone missing on a flight from southern Myanmar to Yangon, a military spokesman has said. There were fears it may have crashed into the ocean, since its route would have taken it over the Andaman Sea.

General Myat Min Oo said the Chinese-made Y-8 turboprop aircraft was carrying 106 passengers – mostly families of military personnel – and 14 crew members when it went missing on Wednesday afternoon.

In an earlier statement, the number of passengers was said to be 90. It is not unusual for such flights to carry civilians to offset transportation costs for military families stationed in the somewhat remote south.

“The military plane went missing and lost contact after it took off from Myeik, and now the military has started a sea and air search with naval ships and military aircraft and is preparing for rescue operations,” he said.

It was raining at the time, but not heavily, he said.

Myeik, also known as Mergui, is a city in south-east Myanmar on the Andaman coast.

An announcement posted on the Facebook page of the commander of the military, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, said the flight took off from Myeik at 1.06pm and contact was lost at 1.35pm, when it was believed to be about 32km west of Dawei, formerly known as Tavoy.

The military announcement said Myanmar received the Y-8 plane in March last year, and since then it had logged 809 flying hours.

In a second announcement on Wednesday night, the commander’s office said six navy ships and three military aircraft were searching for the missing plane.

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