Eureka News Now —
A Tanzanian airliner operated by Precision Air crashed in bad weather in Lake Victoria on Sunday, killing 19 people.
The country’s Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said officials believe all the bodies were recovered from the plane.
“We start getting the luggage and personal belongings off the plane. A team of doctors and security officials have started identifying the dead and notifying families,” Majaliwa said.
The airline confirmed the death toll and reduced the number of survivors to 24 in an updated statement Sunday night. Earlier the airline, as well as local officials, said 26 of the 43 people on board had been rescued.
“Precision Air extends its deepest condolences to the families and friends of the passenger and crew involved in this tragic incident. The company will endeavor to provide them with information and any support they may need during their difficult time,” the airline said.
“The names of the passengers and crew on board the aircraft will not be released until all next of kin have been notified,” she added.
The plane, carrying 39 passengers and four crew members, had taken off from Dar es Salaam, the commercial capital of Tanzania, and was en route to the city of Bukoba before crashing into Lake Victoria as it prepared to land.
Videos circulating on social media, taken by bystanders on the shore of Lake Victoria, showed the plane submerged in the water and rescue workers coordinating rescue efforts from nearby boats.
Patrick Mwanri, CEO of Precision Air, expressed his distress as he spoke to reporters in Dar es Salaam on Sunday.
Mwanri’s voice broke and he had to pause to wipe away tears as he said the plane took off around 6am and was expected at 8.30am in the northwest lake town of Bukoba
“But at 8:53 a.m. our Operations Control Center received a report that this plane had not arrived,” he said in a televised statement.
The accident is said 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 suspected bad weather may have played a role in the accident, saying the area was suffering from heavy rains and high winds at the time.
The regional airline has opened a crisis management center and set up information zones in Bukoba and Dar es Salaam to communicate with passengers’ families.
After news of the crash, Tanzania’s president took to social media to call for calm while rescuers worked at the site of a crashed plane.
“It is with sadness that I received the news of the Precision Air flight crash at Lake Victoria in the Kagera region,” President Samia Suluhu Hassan wrote on Twitter on Sunday.
“I send my condolences to everyone affected by this incident. Let’s continue to remain calm as the rescue operation continues and we pray to God to help us.”
Precision Air is a Tanzanian airline based in Dar es Salaam.