As of the time of filing this report, the Tanzanian passenger plane that crashed on Sunday had claimed 19 lives, with 24 survivors rescued.
Precision Air confirmed this in a statement issued shortly after the crash which had been blamed on bad weather.
“Precision Air regrets to confirm that the emergency services have now reported 19 fatalities and 24 survivors at the scene of the accident involving PW-494 which crashed at Lake Victoria in Bukoba today,” the airline said.
This was also corroborated by the country’s Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa who told reporters: “All Tanzanians join you in mourning these 19 people … who have lost their lives.”
Aljazeera reports it was not immediately clear if the 19 victims included rescuers who drowned or whether the 48-seater aircraft had more people on board than previously disclosed, a regional official said.
“We are continuing to investigate,” said Chalamila. “There is a possibility that two people were not onboard but died during the rescue effort.”
Precision Air, Tanzania’s largest privately-owned airline, said it had dispatched rescuers to the scene.
“An investigation team consisting of Precision Air technical staff and Tanzania Airports Authority has also departed to join the rescue team on the ground,” the airline said in a statement.
“We have managed to save quite a number of people,” Kagera province police Commander William Mwampaghale told journalists earlier in the day.
“When the aircraft was about 100 metres midair, it encountered problems and bad weather. It was raining and the plane plunged into the water. Everything is under control.”
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News reports showed photos of the plane mostly submerged in the lake with only its green- and brown-colored tail visible above the water line.
Speaking to Al Jazeera from Dar es Salaam, journalist Faraji Saidi said emergency services were at the scene.
“According to the police commander in Bukoba, the plane crashed due to bad weather, fog. It is raining around that area. Rescue efforts are still ongoing. The airline has worked in Tanzania for so long and has had no crashes,” Saidi said.
Bukoba Airport is on the shores of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake. Rescue boats were deployed and emergency workers continued to rescue other passengers trapped on the plane.
Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan called for calm during the rescue operation.
“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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