A junta helicopter crashed near an air force base in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw, killing the pilot and a trainee, local media reported Friday.
The military confirmed Thursday’s crash, thought to have been caused by sudden engine failure, but did not give the names and ranks of the dead.
Local news reports, quoting anonymous military sources, named the pilot/instructor as Maj. Min Thu Aung but only said the trainee was a woman without naming her.
One local told RFA the army sent an investigation team to the site of the helicopter crash on the Bago mountain range.
“It crashed on the Bago Plateau on the edge of Lewe township [in Naypyidaw] and bordering Taungdwingyi township [in Magway region],” said the resident who didn’t want to be named for security reasons.
“Military vehicles came to the area but could not reach the crash site. We saw a lot of helicopter traffic.”
The junta said in a statement that they were working to transport the bodies to the nearest military hospital.
In March last year, a military helicopter crashed during bad weather in a forest in Chin state’s Hakha township, injuring some military council air force officers and some education workers.
That helicopter was Russian-made and Thein Tun Oo, the executive director of the Thayninga Institute for Strategic Studies, a think tank group made up of former military officers, said at the time it was a durable design but probably crashed due to bad weather.
The make of the helicopter that crashed this week is not yet known.
Russia is the biggest arms supplier to Myanmar, selling U.S.$406 million worth of military equipment to the junta since the Feb. 1, 2021 coup, according to a report last month by Tom Andrews, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar on May 17.
China, Singapore and India sold at least a combined $600 million-worth of weapons to Myanmar over the same period, he said.
Translated by RFA Burmese. Edited by Mike Firn.