Myanmar's military added more ships and aircraft Thursday morning to search for a transport plane carrying 120 people that disappeared after takeoff from a southern coastal city and was feared to have crashed in the Andaman Sea.
The Chinese-made Y-8 turboprop aircraft was carrying 106 passengers — mostly families of military personnel — and 14 crew members when it went missing Wednesday afternoon. It is not unusual for such flights to carry civilians to offset transportation costs for military families stationed in the somewhat remote south.
The plane had left Myeik, also known as Mergui, in southeastern Myanmar on the Andaman coast and was heading for the country's largest city, Yangon. Its route would have taken it over the Andaman Sea.
"The military plane went missing and lost contact after it took off from Myeik, and now the military has started a sea and air search with naval ships and military aircraft and is preparing for rescue operations," Gen. Myat Min Oo said Wednesday.
It was raining at the time, but not heavily, he said.
An announcement posted on the Facebook page of the commander of the military, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, said contact was lost about a half-hour into the flight when the plane was believed to be about 32 kilometers (20 miles) to the west of Dawei, formerly known as Tavoy.
The military said Myanmar received the Y-8 plane in March last year, and since then it had logged 809 flying hours.
The commander's office said six navy ships and three military aircraft were searching for the plane late Wednesday. By Thursday morning, it had added to the search, deploying nine naval ships, five army aircraft and three helicopters.
The area is about 440 miles (700 kilometers) north of the last primary radar contact with Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which vanished on a flight from Malaysia to Beijing on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board. That plane is believed to have flown far off course and crashed into a remote area of the southern Indian Ocean.