A military plane crashed near the Anisakhan Airport in Pyin Oo Lwin, Mandalay Region, on Thursday morning, reportedly killing at least 13 passengers, including an influential monk and six military officers.
The plane crashed next to a housing compound for staff from the department of electricity near the airport as it attempted to land at around 8am. It broke into three pieces, according to locals.
According to a letter leaked about the crash and believed to be directed to the junta authorities, the military plane left from the capital of Naypyitaw at 7am and crashed one hour later as it was landing in Mandalay due to bad weather and a communication blackout.
“As far as we know, it was a military transport flight. We don’t know who was on it or what they were doing. It’s not like we can go and observe the scene. But we did hear that two monks were on it,” a Pyin Oo Lwin local told Myanmar Now, adding, “The weather here is normal, it was just normal rain. It wasn’t too bad.”
The passengers on board reportedly included monk Bhaddanta Kawisara, and military officers Maj Moe Htet Kyaw, Maj Zaw Htoo, Cpt Myint Soe, Cpt Soe Hein Htet, Sgt Kaung San Win and Sgt La Min Win Thein.
The leaked letter, which went viral on social media, described Bhaddanta Kawisara as the abbot of the Maha Withutarama Zay Kone monastery in Pyinmana, Naypyitaw. It also stated that eight individuals, including the monk and donors, were on the flight to attend the inauguration ceremony of another monastery in Kyauk Hpyar Doe village in Pyin Oo Lwin Township.
Businessman Win Ko Ko, who also goes by the name Mya Phoo, was among those allegedly on the flight, along with at least two of his three sons. The youngest, Paing Bhone Pyae, is believed to be the only survivor of the crash, according to locals.
Myanmar Now was not able to independently verify this information at the time of reporting, but has seen a copy of the official invitation to the 9am opening ceremony. It cited Win Ko Ko and his wife Lae Lae Win as donors to the monastery.
Military-run Myawaddy TV also announced Bhaddanta Kawisara was on a plane that crashed on Thursday. He holds the highest religious title of Abhidhaja Maha Rattha Guru, and was revered by former military chief Snr-Gen Than Shwe. The monk chairs the committee for the Uppatasanti Pagoda, a replica of Yangon’s Shwedagon Pagoda in Naypyitaw.
Current coup leader Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing also reportedly holds Bhaddanta Kawisara in high regard. The monk has been known to regularly receive support from Myanmar’s military generals to open new pagodas.
Min Aung Hlaing visited Bhaddanta Kawisara on February 2, to receive the monk’s blessings one day after the military chief seized power in a coup.
Source – Myanmar Now
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