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Death Toll in Myanmar Plane Crash Rises to 31

Family members of victims from a military plane crash prepare for a funeral ceremony in Dawei, Myanmar, June 9, 2017.

Thirty-one bodies have been found by rescue searchers, along with plane debris believed to be from a Burmese military aircraft that went missing Wednesday with 122 people on board, according to a government statement Friday.

Officials said the victims include 21 women, eight children, and two men. Pieces of luggage, life jackets and a plane wheel have been found in the waters about 35 kilometers from the southern city of Launglon.

Search efforts may be hampered in the next few days as bad weather approaches. A low pressure system over the Bay of Bengal is bringing storms and reduced visibility to the area.

The cause of the crash remains a mystery.

Nine naval ships and a group of airplanes and helicopters were sent out Thursday to search for the Chinese-made Y-8-200F plane, which Myanmar bought in March of last year and which the military said had 809 flying hours.

The plane, carrying mostly family members of military personnel, was traveling from the city of Myeik, also known as Mergui, in southeastern Myanmar on the Andaman coast. Most of the journey to Yangon, Myanmar's largest city, would have been over the Andaman Sea.

"We found debris around Horseshoe Bay," Tanintharyi Division Border Affairs and Security Minister Colonel Kyaw Zeya said in a Thursday interview with VOA's Burmese service.

"Our rescue team includes police officers, a fire brigade team, and local Samaritans. First aid and paramedics teams also have set up a makeshift hospital at the nearest beach to take care of survivors," he added.