YANGON, Myanmar — A military transport plane with 104 people on board disappeared after taking off Wednesday afternoon from an air base in the southern part of the country, military officials said. Most of the passengers were relatives of Myanmar soldiers, including children, as well as 14 crew members.
The navy and air force mobilized ships and planes to search for the aircraft in the area near Myike Air Base, about 350 miles south of the country’s commercial capital, Yangon, the office of the commander in chief, Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, said in a statement. The plane, a Chinese-made Y-8, was en route to Yangon.
The flight path would have taken the aircraft over the Andaman Sea. The weather in the area was bad, residents said, with pounding rain typical of the monsoon season that is now enveloping Myanmar.
Maj. Gen. Aung Ye Win, the chief of military information, said the search operation had not found any trace of the plane or bodies.
Myanmar’s military plays an important political role in the country even as a civilian government, with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi as its nominal head, has been in power since 2015. The army holds 25 percent of the seats in Parliament and controls three crucial ministries, including home affairs.
The missing plane had logged 809 flying hours, a statement on the military’s Facebook page said. The Y-8 is commonly used for transport, reconnaissance, and search and rescue. It has four propellers and is modeled on a Russian prototype, according to a description in the Chinese state news media.
Local news media quoted Myanmar’s Defense Ministry as saying that in 2015, the Air Force had bought 29 airplanes and seven helicopters in the preceding four years, coinciding with an overall increase in military spending in Southeast Asia.