Myanmar navy ships battled high winds on Saturday as they rooted through the storm-whipped Andaman sea for wreckage from a military plane crash, bringing another body to shore as scores remained missing.
The aircraft, a Chinese-made Y-8-200F transport plane, lost contact 29 minutes after takeoff on Wednesday, while at a height of 18,000 feet (5,485 meters), about 43 miles (70 km) west of the coastal town of Dawei, the Myanmar military has said.
It was carrying 122 people, including children and other relatives of servicemen.
Navy vessels and local fishing trawlers have fought fierce monsoon weather as they search for bodies and traces of the plane.
A military vessel pulled another corpse from the waves on Saturday morning, bringing the number of retrieved dead to 33 as the search effort stretched into a fourth day.
“A military ship retrieved a new dead body,” the army chief’s office said in a statement.
One man’s remains were also found late Friday while most of the other bodies were brought to shore on Thursday before severe monsoon weather set in, hampering search efforts.
Hundreds of distraught relatives have flocked to Dawei for mass cremation ceremonies, with desperate families waiting for news of those still unaccounted for, as hopes fade of finding survivors.
There has been no official explanation for the cause of the crash, one of several deadly incidents involving Myanmar military aircraft in recent years.
While monsoon season brings annual bouts of rainy weather, there were no reports of major storms along the plane’s flight path when it disappeared while flying from the southern city of Myeik to Yangon, Myanmar’s commercial hub.
Meanwhile, Chinese state media reported that China will offer support and assistance for Myanmar’s follow-up efforts after the crash.
China, as a friendly neighbor, shares Myanmar’s sorrow over the incident, President Xi Jinping told his counterpart U Htin Kyaw in a condolence message, state news agency Xinhua said late on Friday.
“Xi mourned the dead and extended sincere sympathy to the government and people of Myanmar, especially the families of the victims,” the agency added.