A military plane has crashed near Myanmar’s second-biggest city of Mandalay, killing at least 12 people.
The plane was flying from the capital, Naypyidaw, to the town of Pyin Oo Lwin on Thursday and was coming in to land when it crashed about 300 metres (984 feet) from a steel plant, the military-owned Myawaddy television station reported.
Zaw Min Tun, a spokesman for Myanmar’s military, said the plane had “lost communications” during bad weather.
Emergency workers were still on the scene, he added.
The plane was carrying six military personnel and also monks who were due to attend a ceremony at a Buddhist monastery, other media reports said.
Among the victims was one of Myanmar’s most influential Buddhist monks – Abhisheka Maha Rattha Guru Bhatanda Kavisara, according to the Irrawaddy news website. The monk is venerated by the Myanmar military, it reported.
BREAKING ❗️ A military own passenger airplane crashed near Pyin Oo Lwin formerly and colloquially referred to as Maymyo, Mandalay region on Thursday morning. 16 people on board and at least 12 killed according to the Mandalay region fire department Facebook page. pic.twitter.com/X8Awbi0DSu
— soe zeya tun (@soezeya) June 10, 2021
A second monk, two lieutenant commanders and two captains also died, Irrawaddy said.
There were no reports of casualties among people on the ground.
The pilot and one passenger survived and were taken to a military hospital, according to a resident and posting by a community group.
Photographs on social media showed a badly damaged fuselage lying on its side.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since a military coup removed the elected government led by Aung San Suu Kyi on February 1, with daily protests in towns and cities and fighting in borderlands between the military and ethnic minority militias.
Last month, the Kachin Independence Army – an ethnic rebel group that has waged a decades-long armed uprising against the military – downed an army helicopter during fierce clashes.
Myanmar has long had a poor air safety record.
A military plane crashed into the Andaman Sea in 2017, killing all 122 people on board in one of the deadliest aviation accidents in the country’s history. Authorities blamed bad weather.
And in 2015, an Air Bagan passenger plane veered off the runway amid bad weather and heavy rain. A passenger and a person on the ground were killed.