(Precision Air says the accident involved an ATR42-500 aircraft, not an ATR48 as previously said)
From Nuzulack Dausen
DAR ES SALAAM (Reuters) – A Precision Air flight carrying 39 passengers crash-landed in Lake Victoria on Sunday while attempting to reach a nearby airport in Tanzania, the airline said.
At least 26 people were rescued from the plane, the airline said in a statement.
Flight PW494, which departed from the commercial capital Dar es Salaam, made an “unfortunate landing” in the lake as it approached the lakeside town of Bukoba, Precision Air added.
The cause wasn’t immediately clear, but the state broadcaster said the incident happened amid storms and torrential rain.
A witness told Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC) he saw the plane fly unsteadily in low visibility as it approached the airport and said it banked towards the airport but missed and went into the lake .
Videos and images circulating on social media showed the plane almost entirely submerged, with only its green-and-brown tail visible above the waterline of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake.
Lifeboats were deployed and rescue workers continued to pull trapped passengers from the plane, TBC reported.
Rescuers were in contact with the pilots in the cockpit trying to pull the plane out of the lake, Albert Chalamila, the chief administrator of Tanzania’s Kagera region, told reporters.
TBC footage showed scores of local residents standing along the shoreline and others wading into the shallows as rescuers continued their efforts.
Precision Air, Tanzania’s largest private airline, identified the aircraft as an ATR42-500. Airline officials did not immediately respond to calls for more details about the incident.
Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan called for calm while the rescue operation continued.
“It is with sadness that I received the news of the Precision Air plane accident,” she tweeted. “Let’s keep calm at this moment as rescuers proceed with the rescue mission while we pray to God to help us.” (This story has been corrected to add that the accident involved an ATR42-500 aircraft, not an ATR48 )