Rescue workers recovered more bodies on Monday as improved weather aided the search for a military plane that crashed off the southern coast of Myanmar last week.
In a statement, the military said clearer weather in the Andaman Sea had prompted the deployment of more naval ships, military aircraft and fishing trawlers to hunt for the transport plane and the remains of the 122 passengers and crew.
Seventeen bodies were pulled from the sea on Monday, bringing the number of recovered corpses to 76, including 28 women and 12 children.
The Chinese-made Y8-200F four-propeller plane crashed at sea last Wednesday evening as it headed to Yangon from the coastal town of Myeik in southern Tanintharyi.
General Min Aung Hlaing, who heads Myanmar’s armed forces, said the weather was likely to have been the main factor in the accident, local media reported.
“The crashed plane [is] expected to be found soon as the plane crash site is in the country’s territory,” he said.
Hlaing’s statement that weather was a factor in the crash appears to contradict that of a civil aviation official who was quoted last week by the Reuters news agency as saying that weather had been “normal” when the plane took off.
China offers help
China offered help and support on Saturday for Myanmar’s hunt for the plane, in service since March 2016, as Myanmar begun probing the accident in cooperation with officials from the Chinese aircraft manufacturer.
General Aung Ye Win, a spokesperson for the Myanmar military, told reporters that the military is determined to continue the search, but admitted chances of finding survivors are fading due to bad weather.
During a fundraising ceremony for the victims' families in capital Naypyidaw on Saturday, Hlaing called the accident the worst air disaster in the country’s military history.
Eight military personnel were killed in two separate training aircraft accidents last year.
According to a local media report, Myanmar has had 17 aircraft accidents since 1998, most of them involving small passenger aircraft.