At least 29 bodies, including those of eight children, have so far been recovered from waters off Myanmar's southern coast where a Myanmar military transport plane that went missing Wednesday is believed to have crashed, the military said in a statement Thursday.
The statement from the Office of the Military Commander in Chief said local fishing boats assisting in the search and rescue mission southwest of the town of Launglon in Tanintharyi region had found a number of the bodies.
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In the morning, a navy ship involved in the mission found a tire and other debris believed to be part of the Chinese-made Y-8 transport plane, which vanished around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday over the Andaman Sea with 122 soldiers, family members and crew onboard.
Another update from the same office said one of its search and rescue planes spotted jet fuel believed to be from the missing plane in an area around 30 kilometers southwest of the coastal city of Dawei. Navy ships are heading to the area for further inspection.
Meanwhile, the presidential office issued a statement expressing condolences to the families and friends of the victims and pledged to continue the search and rescue operation.
However, there is still no official announcement of the plane having crashed nor any reason given for its disappearance.
Contact with the Yangon-bound plane was lost about half an hour after it took off from Myeik, a city on Myanmar's southern coast, as part of a weekly logistics supply mission.
Along with 2.4 tons of cargo, it was carrying military personnel and family members, including 15 children, on a route that would have taken it over the Andaman Sea.
The military said nine naval ships, five army planes and two helicopters are involved in the ongoing search-and-rescue efforts.
It said the plane was operated by "seasoned pilot" Lt. Col. Nyeinh Chan, who had accumulated a total of 3,162 flying hours, and co-piloted by Lt. Col. Soe Thu Win, who had 3,161 flying hours.