YANGON: Search crews in Myanmar have now recovered the bodies of nearly half of those who died in last week's military plane crash, the army said today.
The Chinese-made Shaanxi Y8 aircraft was carrying 122 people -- soldiers, crew members and children and other relatives of servicemen -- when it plunged into the Andaman Sea on Wednesday.
Navy ships and fishing vessels have been battling strong monsoon swells to find victims, with the army saying they had recovered 59 by today afternoon.
"The number of dead bodies found in total is now 59," the commander in chief's office said in a statement, adding 26 victims were pulled from the water today.
There has been no official explanation for the cause of the crash, one of several deadly incidents involving Myanmar military aircraft in recent years.
Army chief Min Aung Hlaing was quoted in local media today as saying weather was more likely to be a factor that mechanical failure.
But 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. The four-engine turboprop aircraft was less than two years old and had only flown some 800 hours, according to Myanmar's military.
But the Y8 is a Chinese variant of the Soviet-era Antonov An12, which has something of a dubious safety record.
It is not clear whether Myanmar has the kind of resources needed to locate a flight recorder within an ocean.
The state-run Global New Light of Myanmar said today that authorities had rejected offers of help from overseas.
"Several nations, including China, have made offers to assist Myanmar's recovery effort, but none has been accepted to date," the paper said.
Myanmar's military for almost half a century ruled the country with an iron fist and remains hugely influential.
It has long been wary of accepting offers of outside help.
When Cyclone Nargis slammed into Myanmar in 2008 and killed some 50,000 people, the military refused offers of international aid, sparking widespread anger and criticism.