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Bodies, debris found in search for missing Myanmar aircraft

Bodies and aircraft debris were found in the sea off the southern coast of Myanmar on Thursday by a navy ship searching for a military plane which went missing with 122 soldiers, family members and crew on board.

10 bodies, including 6 adults and 4 children, found by navy ship

Myanmar military personnel salvage the wheel of a downed transportation plane from the Andaman Sea on Thursday. (Myanmar Military News/EPA)

Bodies and aircraft debris were found in the sea off the southern coast of Myanmar on Thursday by a navy ship searching for a military plane which went missing with 122 soldiers, family members and crew on board.

Ten bodies, six adults and four children, were found about 35 kilometres off the southern coastal town of Launglon by navy and civilian ships, the military said in its latest statement posted on its official Facebook page.

The search by nine navy ships, five military planes and two helicopters, would continue with help from civilian boats, it said.

The Chinese-made Y-8-200F transport plane vanished on Wednesday after taking off from the coastal town of Myeik on a weekly flight to Myanmar's largest city, Yangon.

The plane lost contact 29 minutes after takeoff while flying at 18,000 feet (5,485 metres) over the Andaman Sea, about 70 kilometres west of the town of Dawei, the military said.

An aircraft wheel, two life jackets and some bags with clothes — believed to be from the missing plane — were found earlier.

Some patches of oil were spotted some 29 kilometres from Dawei, the military said.

More than 40 ambulances and scores of medics and emergency staff were heading to the fishing town of Sanlan where boats carrying bodies were set to arrive around mid-day, said Hla Thein, a member of a hospital emergency team.

The plane was carrying 122 passengers, including 108 soldiers and their family members and 14 crew. The military said the 108 passengers included 15 children, 58 adults and 35 soldiers.

It is the rainy season in Myanmar but a civil aviation official said the weather had been "normal" with good visibility when the plane took off.

The aircraft was bought in March 2016 and had a total of 809 flying hours. It was carrying 2.17 tonnes of supplies, the military said.

A Chinese military Y-8 aircraft flies over the Pacific, near Japan, in October 2013. A similar plane belonging to Myanmar's military went missing Wednesday between Yangon and the southern city of Myeik. (Joint Staff Office of the Defence Ministry of Japan/Reuters)

Nicknamed the "air camel" in Chinese, the multi-purpose aircraft was approved for production in 1980 and is still being produced by Shaanxi Aircraft Corporation, a unit of state-owned Aviation Industry Corp. of China.

The four-spoke turboprop is used in countries including China and Sudan.

Aircraft incidents, both civilian and military, are not uncommon in the Southeast Asian country.

A military helicopter crashed last June in central Myanmar, killing three military personnel on board. Five military personnel were killed last February after an air force aircraft crashed in the country's capital, Naypyitaw, media reported.

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