59 bodies recovered from Andaman Sea as search continues for remaining victims

Search crews have recovered the bodies of nearly half of those who died in last week’s military plane crash off the southern Tanintharyi Region coast, the Tatmadaw said on June 11, AFP reported.

The Chinese-made Shaanxi Y8 aircraft was carrying 122 people when it plunged into the Andaman Sea off Dawei on June 7 during a routine flight from Myeik to Yangon.

More than half of the passengers on the aircraft were from military families, including 15 children, the Tatmadaw said. The rest were soldiers and flight crew.

Navy ships and fishing vessels have been battling strong monsoon swells to find victims, with the army saying it had recovered 59 by the afternoon of June 11.

“The number of dead bodies found in total is now 59,” the office of the Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief said in a statement. It said 26 victims were pulled from the water on June 11.

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There has been no official explanation for the cause of the crash, one of several deadly incidents involving Myanmar military aircraft in recent years.

Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing was quoted as saying in Myanmar media on June 11 that weather was more likely to be a factor that mechanical failure.

However, there were no reports of major storms along the plane’s route when it disappeared on the flight from Myeik to Yangon.

The four-engine turboprop aircraft was less than two years old and had only flown about 800 hours, the Tatmadaw said.

The Y8 is a Chinese variant of the Soviet-era Antonov An12, which has a dubious safety record.

It was not clear whether Myanmar has the resources needed to recover a flight recorder from beneath the sea.

The state-controlled Global New Light of Myanmar said on June 11 that authorities had rejected offers of help from overseas.

“Several nations, including China, have made offers to assist Myanmar’s recovery effort, but none has been accepted to date,” the paper said.

Myanmar’s military has long been wary of accepting offers of outside help.

When Cyclone Nargis slammed into the Ayeyarwady Delta in 2008 and killed about 50,000 people, the ruling military junta initially refused offers of international aid, sparking widespread anger and criticism.

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