Plane crash kills 19 in Lake Victoria, Tanzania

Death toll jumps after Precision Air flight plunged into Lake Victoria

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The death toll from Sunday's plane crash in Lake Victoria in Tanzania has jumped to 19, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said.

The announcement is likely to mean the end of a search for survivors after a previously announced count put the missing at 17.

The Precision Air flight with dozens of passengers aboard plunged into water while approaching the north-western city of Bukoba.

It is unclear why the death toll jumped higher than the missing toll, but there was speculation that at least one rescuer may have died or that the plane's roster may have been inaccurate.

“All Tanzanians are with you in mourning the 19 people who lost lives during this accident,” Mr Majaliwa told a crowd after arriving at Bukoba airport, where the flight had been scheduled to land from financial capital Dar es Salaam.

Twenty-six people had been saved from the partially submerged aircraft, which crashed in the lake as it approached nearby Bukoba airport.

The aircraft is a 1980s-era ATR-42, a twin-engined propeller plane operated by Precision Air, Tanzania’s largest private airline. It crashed in bad weather while making its final approach and shortly afterwards local fishermen were seen at the crash site assisting with the rescue effort.

“There was an accident involving a Precision Air plane which … crashed into water about 100 metres from the airport,” regional police commander William Mwampaghale told reporters at Bukoba airport.

Regional commissioner Albert Chalamila said 43 people, including 39 passengers, two pilots and two cabin crew, were aboard flight PW494 from financial capital Dar es Salaam to the lakeside city in Kagera region.

“As we speak, we have managed to rescue 26 people who were taken to our referral hospital,” Mr Chalamila said.

“The rescue operation is still ongoing and we are communicating with the pilots,” he said.

Precision Air also said it had dispatched rescuers to the scene.

“An investigation team consisting of Precision Air technical staff and TAA (Tanzania Airports Authority) has also departed to join the rescue team on the ground,” the airline said.

“Precision Air sincerely understands the anxiety for confirmed information and will therefore do its best to issue more details.

“The next update will be issued as soon as we receive more information from the accident scene.”

The African Union Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat also shared his condolences, as did the Secretary General of the regional East African Community bloc, Peter Mathuki.

“Our hearts and prayers go to the families of passengers on-board a plane that crashed into Lake Victoria, with our full solidarity to the Government & people of #Tanzania,” he said on Twitter.

“The East African Community joins and sends our condolences to Mama Samia Suluhu Hassan, families and friends of all those who were affected by the Precision Air plane accident.”

Updated: November 06, 2022, 6:04 PM
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