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RANGOON / SANLAN, Tenasserim Division — Burma on Friday cremated 10 of the 31 bodies pulled from the waters off its southern coast as the hunt for a military transport plane that went missing over the Andaman Sea with 122 people aboard stretched into a third day.
Eight navy ships and sonar systems have joined the search for victims of Wednesday’s incident, along with 20 civilian boats, despite persistent stormy weather, the military said.
More than 100 stunned relatives and friends gathered at a cemetery in the southern coastal town of Dawei, some weeping quietly and others offering prayers, to commemorate 10 identified victims who were cremated on a rainy afternoon.
“What we found now is my granddaughter. Her father and mother’s bodies are not found yet,” said one of the mourners, Ma Myat Thaw May, his voice trembling as he spoke of the seven-month-old girl.
Scores of soldiers waited on standby to help if more bodies need to be carried ashore in the fishing village of Sanlan, about 600 kilometres (372 miles) from Burma’s largest city, Rangoon.
Twenty-three adults and eight children made up the tally of bodies searchers have pulled from the Andaman Sea since Wednesday, the military said on its official page on social media site Facebook.
“We have not received any information about survivors,” said Phyu Phyu Win, a regional social welfare and relief official. “Hopefully someone would survive.”
Soldiers, family members and crew were on board the weekly flight from several coastal towns to Rangoon when it went missing.
The Chinese-made Y-8-200F transport plane lost contact 29 minutes after takeoff, while at a height of 18,000 feet (5,485 metres), about 43 miles (70 kilometres) west 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 on Thursday. Some oil patches were also spotted, the military said.
The cause of the incident has yet to be confirmed.
State-owned China National Aero-Technology Import & Export Corporation, maker of the plane, said it would assist Burmese authorities in investigating the crash.
Survivors are unlikely more than 24 hours after the plane lost contact, despite warm sea temperatures, experts have said.
Many bodies fragmented into several pieces and no victim wearing a life jacket has yet been recovered, a member of the emergency team said.
Aircraft accidents, involving both civilian and military planes, are not uncommon in Burma.
A military helicopter crashed last June, killing three military personnel. Five were killed in February last year when an air force aircraft crashed in the capital, Naypyidaw, media said.