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AfricaWorld

Passenger plane crashes into Lake Victoria in Tanzania, at least 19 dead (Update 3)

plane
Photo: Social media

A Precision Air flight carrying 39 passengers made a crash landing into Lake Victoria on Sunday while attempting to reach a nearby airport in Tanzania, the airline said.

At least 19 people were killed.

“All Tanzanians join you in mourning these 19 people … who have lost their lives,” Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa told reporters in Bukoba.

There was no immediate confirmation from the airline, which said earlier that 26 people had been rescued from the plane.

Flight PW494, which departed from the commercial capital Dar es Salaam, “crash landed” into the lake as it was approaching the lakeside city of Bukoba, Precision Air added.

The cause was not immediately clear, but the state broadcaster said the incident took place amid storms and heavy rains.

A witness told the Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC) he saw the plane flying unsteadily as it approached the airport in poor visibility conditions, saying it took a turn for the airport but missed and went into the lake.

Video and pictures circulating on social media showed the plane almost fully submerged, with only its green and brown-coloured tail visible above the water line of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake.

Rescue boats were deployed, and emergency workers were continuing to pull trapped passengers from the plane, TBC reported.

people look at precision air plane that crushed into lake victoria
People look at Precision Air plane that crushed into Lake Victoria, Tanzania

 

Rescue workers were in touch with the pilots in the cockpit and were attempting to pull the plane from the lake, Albert Chalamila, the chief administrator of Tanzania’s Kagera region, told reporters.

TBC footage showed scores of residents standing along the shoreline and others wading into the shallow waters, as rescuers carried on with their efforts.

Precision Air, Tanzania’s largest privately owned airline, identified the aircraft as an ATR42-500. Airline officials did not immediately respond to calls seeking further details about the incident.

Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan called for calm as the rescue operation continued.

“I have received with sadness the news of the accident involving Precision Air’s plane,” she tweeted. “Let’s be calm at this moment when rescuers are continuing with the rescue mission while praying to God to help us.”

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