Wreckage and bodies from a Myanmar military flight that had gone missing Wednesday afternoon have been discovered in the Andaman Sea, the military has confirmed.
Aircraft parts and the remains of two adults and a child, along with life jackets and luggage were discovered at 8:18 a.m. Thursday local time (9:48 p.m. Wednesday ET), 14 miles west of Kyauk Ni Maw in Rakhine state, the statement said. The search operation is ongoing.
The plane, with 122 people on board, lost contact 29 minutes after taking off from the coastal town of Myeik. It was headed toward Yangon and part of a regularly scheduled military flight, a military spokesman told CNN on Wednesday.
Of the 122 people on board, 108 were passengers and 14 were crew, Capt. Myat Min Oo said. Myanmar state media reported that 15 children and 58 civilian adults were among the missing. The other passengers were military personnel.
Myanmar authorities lost contact with the plane at 1:35 p.m. local time. The plane was reportedly flying at an altitude of 18,000 feet.
Nine Navy ships and three airplanes are searching for the plane in the Andaman Sea to the south of Yangon.
The aircraft was a Chinese-made Shaanxi Y8-200F four-turboprop plane. It had recently been purchased and logged 809 flight hours.
Early reports said weather wasn’t to blame. Kyaw Kyaw Htay, a civil aviation official at Myeik airport said the weather had been “normal” when the flight had departed, according to reports.
However, given the season and satellite imagery CNN meteorologist Tom Sater says he wouldn’t rule out storms being the cause for the aircraft’s failure.
“This is the wet season and thunderstorms and showers do develop but nothing significant was noted at the time the plane went missing,” he said.
“If (the pilot) entered this region at 18,000 feet, that aircraft is going to enter tropical rains so it could have been that there was a downburst or heavy rainfall.
“We know in the next 24-48 hours there will be more rain at the site that they have the six vessels, could see another 80-120 mm (3.1 – 4.7 in) of rainfall,” which would impede the ongoing search operation for the aircraft, he added.