“As we speak, we have managed to rescue 26 people who were taken to our referral hospital,”
Officials say three
people are confirmed dead as rescuers continue to search for survivors after a
plane carrying 43 people plunged into Lake Victoria in Tanzania on Sunday due
to bad weather as it approached the northwestern city of Bukoba.
“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.
Albert Chalamila said 43 people, including 39 passengers, two pilots and two
cabin crew, were aboard flight PW 494 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,”
operation is still ongoing and we are communicating with the pilots,” he
said, adding that the aircraft was an ATR-42, manufactured by Toulouse-based
Franco-Italian firm ATR.
Precision Air, a
publicly-listed company which is Tanzania’s largest private airline, said it
had dispatched rescuers to the scene.
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 in a statement.
Video footage broadcast
on local media showed the plane largely submerged as rescuers, including
fishermen, waded through water to bring people to safety.
Emergency workers attempted
to lift the aircraft out of the water using ropes, assisted by cranes as local
residents also sought to help in the effort.
President Samia Suluhu
Hassan expressed her condolences to those affected by the accident.
“Let’s continue to
be calm while the rescue operation continues as we pray to God to help
us,” she said on Twitter.
‘Hearts and prayers’
The African Union
Commission chair 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,” Mathuki said on Twitter.
Precision Air, which is
partly owned by Kenya Airways, was founded in 1993 and operates domestic and
regional flights as well as private charters to popular tourist destinations
such as the Serengeti National Park and the Zanzibar archipelago.
The accident comes five
years after 11 people died when a plane belonging to safari company Coastal
Aviation crashed in northern Tanzania.
In March 2019, an
Ethiopian Airlines flight from from Addis Ababa to Nairobi plunged six minutes
after take-off into a field southeast of the Ethiopian capital, killing all 157
people on board.
In 2007, a Kenya
Airways flight from the Ivory Coast city of Abidjan to Kenya’s capital Nairobi
crashed into a swamp after take-off, killing all 114 passengers.
In 2000, another Kenya
Airways flight from Abidjan to Nairobi crashed into the Atlantic Ocean minutes
after take-off, killing 169 people while 10 survived.