A military aircraft belonging to the Myanmar Army disappeared Wednesday afternoon over Andaman Sea.  Different reports indicate that there were anywhere from 100 to 120 military personnel, family members, and flight crew aboard when it went missing.  One source within the airport that has requested anonymity claims the aircraft left with 105 passengers and 11 crew members.

Unconfirmed reports indicate that as many as a dozen children were among the passengers on the flight, believed to be family members of military personnel that were also on board.

“We don’t know what exactly happened to this plane after the loss of contact,” said Kyaw Kyaw Htey, a civil aviation official at Myeik airport.

Regional media has indicated that debris has been spotted in the Andaman Sea between southern city of Myeik and its destination in Yangon, indicating that the aircraft likely went down soon after losing contact with air traffic control towers at about 1:35PM local time.  The plane was flying at an altitude of approximately 18,000 feet when it lost contact with radio operators.  Search and rescue efforts are underway, but no survivors have been reported thus far.

“Now they have found pieces of the damaged plane in the sea 136 miles (218 km) away from Dawei city,” said Naing Lin Zaw, a tourism official in Myeik city.  He then added that the Navy is continuing its search.

Although it is monsoon season in Myanmar, Kyaw Kyaw Htey said the weather had been “normal” with good visibility when the plane took off.  Six Myanmar Navy ships and three military plans have begun searching the area for any signs of survivors or evidence to suggest the cause of what would appear to be a crash.

The Chinese-made Y-8-200F transport plane is a medium size, medium range aircraft originally designed and manufactured by China’s Shaanxi Aircraft Company to specifically suit the needs of China’s People’s Liberation Army.  It is one of the largest transport aircraft in service by the Chinese and Myanmar militaries.  It is designed to take off and land on difficult terrain and was built specifically to operate during weather conditions that would leave some aircraft grounded.

“We think it was a technical failure. Weather is fine there,” an airport source told AFP, asking not to be named.