A Tanzanian commercial flight operated by Precision Air crashed in bad weather on Lake Victoria on Sunday, killing 19 people.
The country’s prime minister, Kassim Majaliwa, said officials believed all the bodies had been removed from the plane.
“We start removing luggage and personal belongings from the plane. A team of doctors and security agencies has started the process of identifying the deceased and informing their families,” said Majaliwa.
In an updated statement on Sunday evening, the airline confirmed the death toll and reduced the number of survivors to 24. Earlier, the carrier as well as local officials said that 26 of the 43 people on board had been rescued.
“Precision Air offers its deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew involved in this tragic incident. The company will try to provide them with information and all the help they need in their difficult time,” the airline said.
“The names of the passengers and crew members on board the plane will not be released until all their relatives have been notified,” he added.
The plane, carrying 39 passengers and four crew members, took off from Tanzania’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam and headed for Bukoba before crashing into Lake Victoria. while preparing to land.
Video shared on social media, taken by onlookers on the shores of Lake Victoria, showed the plane sinking with emergency workers coordinating rescue efforts from nearby boats.
Precision Air CEO Patrick Mwanri was visibly upset while speaking to reporters in Dar es Salaam on Sunday.
Mwanri’s voice trailed off and she had to pause to wipe away tears as she said the plane left at around 6am local time and was expected at Bukoba, a town north-west of the lake, at 8.30am.
“However, at 8:53 in the morning, our Operation Control Center received information that the plane did not arrive,” he said in a television statement.
The crash is believed to have occurred on final approach to the airport, where the runway begins right next to Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest freshwater lake.
Local officials suggested that bad weather played a role in the accident, saying that the area was under heavy rain and strong winds at the time.
The regional airline has opened a Crisis Management Center and established information zones in Bukoba and Dar es Salaam to contact passengers’ families.
After news of the crash, Tanzania’s president called for calm on social media while rescuers worked at the scene of the downed plane.
President Samia Suluhu Hassan tweeted on Sunday: “I am saddened to learn that a Precision Air plane has crashed in Lake Victoria in the Kagera region.”
“I offer my condolences to everyone who suffered from this incident. As the rescue operation continues, let’s keep calm and ask God for help.”
Precision Air is a Tanzanian airline based in Dar es Salaam.
Leave a Comment