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Lake Victoria crash: Commercial plane plunges into lake in Tanzania

Lake Victoria crash: Commercial plane plunges into lake in Tanzania
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CNN

A Tanzanian commercial plane operated by Precision Air landed in Lake Victoria in bad weather on Sunday, killing 19 people.

The country’s Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa, said authorities believed all the bodies were removed from the plane.

“We are starting to unload our luggage and personal belongings from the plane. Majaliwa, a team of doctors and security forces have started the process of identifying the dead and notifying families,” he said.

The airline confirmed the death toll in an updated statement on Sunday evening, lowering the number of survivors to 24. Earlier, the carrier and local officials had said that 26 of the 43 people on board had been rescued.

“Precision Air extends its deepest condolences to the families and friends of the passengers and crew involved in this tragic event. The company will endeavor to provide them with information and any assistance they may need during their difficult times.”

“The names of the passengers and crew on the plane will not be released until all their relatives are notified,” he said.

The aircraft, consisting of 39 passengers and four crew members, took off from Dar es Salaam, the commercial capital of Tanzania, and was en route to the town of Bukoba before plunging into Lake Victoria. while preparing to land.

Video circulating on social media, shot by viewers on the shores of Lake Victoria, showed the plane submerged and emergency responders coordinating rescue efforts from nearby boats.

Precision Air CEO Patrick Mwanri looked visibly distressed as he spoke to reporters in Dar es Salaam on Sunday.

Mwanri’s voice broke and she had to pause to wipe her tears as she said the plane took off at around 6am locally and was expected at 8:30am in the northwest lakeside town of Bukoba.

“However, at 8:53 am, our Operations Control Center received a report that that plane had not arrived,” he said in a televised statement.

The crash is believed to have occurred on the final approach to the airport, whose runway begins right next to Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest freshwater lake.

Local officials said the area was under heavy rain and strong winds at the time, suggesting bad weather may have played a role in the accident.

The regional airline opened a Crisis Management Center and set up information areas in Bukoba and Dar es Salaam to communicate with passengers’ families.

Social media video showed that the plane was almost completely submerged, with only the green and yellow color of the tail of the plane visible above the waterline.

Following the news of the accident, the Tanzanian President called for calm on social media, while rescuers worked at the scene of a crashed plane.

“I am saddened to receive the information that the Precision Air flight crashed on Lake Victoria in the Kagera region,” Chairman Samia Suluhu Hassan said on Twitter on Sunday.

“My condolences to all those affected by this incident. Let’s remain calm and pray to God to help us as the rescue operation continues.”

Precision Air is a Tanzanian airline based in Dar es Salaam.

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