Myanmar military plane with monks crashed, fear of casualties

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A junta spokesman said a Myanmar military plane carrying a high-ranking monk crashed on Thursday near the central city of Mandalay due to bad weather.

The plane, with six crew members and eight passengers, departed from the capital Naypyidaw on Thursday morning for Pyin O Lwin, a city in the central Mandalay region.

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“He lost contact when he was 400 meters (1,300 feet) from a steel mill near the airport,” junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun said in a statement in Mandalay, which attributed the crash to “bad weather”.

The team managed to rescue two passengers who were sent to the nearest military hospital.

No other details were provided about the casualties, and Zo Min Tung added that emergency workers are still at the scene.

In addition, a senior police officer told AFP that at least seven people, including two high-ranking monks, had died in the plane crash.

“Another woman is in critical condition,” he said, on condition of anonymity.

Prior to the February 1 coup, when the military ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, plane crashes were common in Myanmar due to an underdeveloped aviation sector.

Myanmar’s Buddhist monasticism has previously fought against military rule. but split in a coup that ended the country’s nascent democracy, with some prominent religious leaders defending the new junta.

According to a local watchdog group, the military tried to suppress mass protests through bloody repression, which killed more than 800 civilians.

This prompted civilians in some villages to form “defense forces” while some of Myanmar’s ethnic rebel armies launched offensive actions against the military.

Last month, the Kachin Independence Army, an ethnic rebel group that has rebelled against the military for decades, shot down an army helicopter in violent clashes.

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