YANGON, Myanmar – In a baffling incident, a military aircraft, that left from a coastal town in Myanmar’s largest city of Yangon, with 120 people on board, mysteriously vanished over the Andaman Sea.
The army and civil aviation officials said that the Chinese-made Y-8-200F transport plane left Myeik town at 1:06 p.m local time (2:36 a.m. ET) with 120 soldiers, family members and crew on board.
However, the military said that the plane was heading north on a regular weekly military flight, usually stopping at several coastal towns along the way.
It is said to have lost contact 29 minutes after take-off while flying at 18,000 feet over the sea, about 43 miles west of the town of Dawei.
According to Kyaw Kyaw Htey, a civil aviation official at Myeik airport, “We don’t know what exactly happened to this plane after the loss of contact.”
Initially, civil aviation authorities said there were 105 people onboard but the military later confirmed that those on board included 106 soldiers and their family members and 14 crew.
A military officer said that the maximum capacity of the aircraft was 200 people.
Kyaw Kyaw Htey added that it is monsoon season in Myanmar, but that the weather had been “normal” with good visibility when the plane took off.
A massive air and sea service operation was initiated to find the missing plane.
The army said in an official new release that six navy ships and three military planes were mobilised.
Naing Myo Thwin, the chairman of the local funeral association, said, that 300-400 people, including firefighters, medics, emergency and welfare officials, gathered on the shore near the town of Launglon, close to the area where the navy search was concentrated.
The aircraft was reportedly bought in March 2016 and had a total of 809 flying hours.
The military added that it was carrying 2.4 tons of supplies.