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Myanmar military plane carrying monks crashes, casualties feared

At least seven people, including two senior monks, are reported dead in the crash

AFP, Yangon

AFP, Yangon

Published: June 10, 2021 05:58 AM GMT

Updated: June 10, 2021 06:20 AM GMT

Myanmar military plane carrying monks crashes, casualties feared
Protesters carry a wounded man shot with live rounds by security forces during a crackdown on demonstrations against the military coup in Yangon on March 17. (Photo: STR/AFP)

A Myanmar military plane carrying two senior monks has crashed near the central city of Mandalay due to bad weather, a junta spokesman said, with conflicting reports on casualties.

The aircraft, carrying six crew and eight passengers, left the capital Naypyidaw on June 10 morning for Pyin Oo Lwin, a town in the central region of Mandalay.

"It lost communications when it was 400 meters (1,300 feet) away from a steel factory near the airport," in Mandalay, said junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun in a statement that attributed the crash to bad weather.
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A team was able to rescue two passengers, who have been sent to a nearby military hospital.

No other details on casualties were provided, with Zaw Min Tun adding that emergency workers were still on the scene.

Separately, a senior police official told AFP that at least seven people — including two senior monks — had died in the crash. "Another woman is in critical condition," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Myanmar's Buddhist monkhood led an earlier struggle against military rule but is split on the coup

Before the Feb. 1 coup, in which the military ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi from power, plane crashes were common in Myanmar due to its underdeveloped aviation sector.

Myanmar's Buddhist monkhood led an earlier struggle against military rule but is split on the coup that ended the country's nascent democracy, with some prominent religious leaders defending the new junta.

The military has sought to quell mass protests with bloody crackdowns that have killed more than 800 civilians, according to a local monitoring group.

This has prompted civilians in some townships to form "defense forces", while some of Myanmar's ethnic rebel armies have stepped offensives against the military.

Last month, the Kachin Independence Army — an ethnic rebel group that has waged a decades-long insurgency against the military — downed an army helicopter during fierce clashes.

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