A military aircraft carrying 108 military and family members, including 15 children, has gone missing off the coast of Taninthayi yesterday, the military said last night.
The Myanmar Air Force aircraft left the city of Myeik, in Tanintharyi Region, located in the extreme south of the country on the coast of an island on the Andaman Sea, on its way to Yangon, military and civil aviation officials said.
The Chinese-made Y-8-200F turbo-prop transport plane left Myeik at 1:06pm yesterday, heading north to Yangon on a regular weekly flight that visits several coastal towns, officials said.
The plane lost contact 29 minutes after takeoff while flying at 18,000 feet over the Andaman Sea, about 70 kilometers west of the town of Dawei, the military said.
“We don’t know what exactly happened to this plane after the loss of contact,” said Kyaw Kyaw Htay, a civil aviation official at Myeik airport.
Military authorities said the 108 passengers on board included 35 military officers, 14 of whom were members of the flight crew, 15 children, and 58 civilian adults.
The maximum capacity of the aircraft is 200 people, said a military officer.
The members of the cockpit crew were experienced aviators with a total of nearly 9,000 hours of combined flight time, according to military sources.
Lt. Col. Nyein Chan, the head pilot, has 3,162 hours of flying experience. The first co-pilot, Lt. Col. Soe Thu Win, has 3,161 hours of flight time.
The second co-pilot, Maj. Thant Zin Htay, has 2,403 hours of flying experience.
The plane was carrying a load of 2.4 tonnes of cargo, the military said.
Kyaw Kyaw Htay said the weather had been “normal” with good visibility when the plane took off.
Four navy ships and two aircraft from the Air Force launched rescue operations at 2pm in the area where the Y-8-200F plane reportedly lost contact with the airport. The search continued as darkness fell.
The plane was bought in March 2016 and had a total of 809 flying hours, the military said.