Lake Victoria crash: Commercial aircraft plunges into lake in Tanzania



CNN

A Tanzanian commercial airliner operated by Precision Air landed in bad weather over Lake Victoria on Sunday, killing 19 people.

The country’s prime minister, Kassim Majaliwa, said officials believed all the bodies had been found on the plane.

“We are starting to remove luggage and personal belongings from the plane. “A team of doctors and security organizations have started the process of identifying the dead and notifying the families,” said Majali.

The airline confirmed the death toll and revised the number of survivors to 24 in an updated statement on Sunday evening. Earlier, the minister and local officials said that 26 of the 43 people on board were rescued.

“Precision Air expresses its deepest condolences to the families and friends of the passengers and staff involved in this tragic incident. The company will try to provide them with information and any assistance they may need during their difficult time,” the airline said.

“The names of the passengers and crew on board will not be released until all next of kin have been notified,” he added.

The plane, which included 39 passengers and four crew members, took off from Tanzania’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam to the town of Bukoba before crashing into Lake Victoria. as it prepared to descend.

Video circulating on social media taken by onlookers on the shores of Lake Victoria showed the submerged plane and emergency responders coordinating rescue efforts from nearby boats.

The CEO of Precision Air, Patrick Mwanri, appeared distressed when he spoke to journalists in Dar es Salaam on Sunday.

Mwanri’s voice broke and she had to pause to wipe away tears as she said the flight left at around six in the morning and was expected in Bukoba town in the north west at eight o’clock.

“But at 8.53 am our Operations Control Center received a report that the plane had not arrived,” he said in a televised statement.

The accident is believed to have happened on the last approach of the airport which has a runway that starts right next to Lake Victoria, the largest freshwater lake in Africa.

Local officials suggested bad weather may have contributed to the accident, saying the area was experiencing heavy rain and strong winds at the time.

The regional airline has opened a Crisis Management Center and established information points in Bukoba and Dar es Salaam to communicate with passengers’ families.

Social media video showed the plane almost completely submerged with only the blue and yellow livery on the tail of the plane visible above the waterline.

Following news of the crash, the President of Tanzania took to social media to call for calm while rescuers worked at the airport.

“I have sadly received information of the crash of a Precision Air plane in Lake Victoria, Kagera region,” President Samia Suluhu Hassan said on Twitter on Sunday.

“I send my condolences to all those affected by this incident. Let us remain calm as the rescue operation continues and pray to God to help us.”

Precision Air is a Tanzanian airline based in Dar es Salaam.

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