Passenger plane crashes into Lake Victoria in Tanzania, 19 dead, prime minister says

Date:

  • Plane tried to land at nearby airport – airline
  • Boat rescuers rush to rescue trapped passengers
  • Crash happened amid storms, heavy rain – broadcaster

DAR ES SALAAM, Nov. 6 (Reuters) – At least 19 people died when a passenger plane crashed into Lake Victoria in Tanzania Sunday morning while trying to land at a nearby airport, the prime minister said.

Flight PW494, operated by Precision Air, hit water during storms and heavy rain, the state of Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC) reported.

Rescue workers in boats rushed to the wreck, which was almost completely submerged, to free trapped passengers, local authorities said.

“All Tanzanians mourn with you these 19 people…who lost their lives,” Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa told reporters in the lakeside town of Bukoba, close to the crash site.

The detectives are still investigating what happened, he added.

The plane left the commercial capital Dar es Salaam and “crash landed” at 8.53 am (0553 GMT) as it approached Bukoba airport, Precision Air – Tanzania’s largest private airline – said in a statement.

The plane was carrying 39 passengers, including a baby, and four crew members, the airline added. It said 26 of the 43 people on board had been rescued.

Aviation officials did not answer calls for more details and the discrepancy in the numbers could not be immediately reconciled.

A witness told TBC that he saw the plane flying unstable as it approached the airport in poor visibility, and said it took a turn for the airport but missed it and went into the lake.

Videos and photos on social media showed the plane was almost completely submerged, with only its green and brown colored tail visible above the waterline of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake.

Footage from the broadcaster and onlookers showed dozens of residents lining the shoreline and others wading into the shallows to try to pull the plane closer to shore with ropes.

Rescue workers initially had contact with the pilots in the cockpit, Albert Chalamila, chief administrator of Tanzania’s Kagera region, told reporters. The prime minister later said the pilots may have died.

Precision Air identified the aircraft as an ATR42-500. The Franco-Italian manufacturer ATR did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

First introduced nearly 40 years ago, the ATR42 is the smaller of two series of short-range turboprops made by ATR, a joint venture of Airbus (AIR.PA) and Leonardo (LDOF.MI). The last fatal accident was in 2017, according to aviation-safety.net, a safety database.

Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan called for calm as the rescue operation continued.

“I was saddened to receive the news of the Precision Air plane accident,” she tweeted. “Let’s keep calm at this time as rescuers continue the rescue mission as they pray to God to help us.”

Additional reporting by Duncan Miriri in Nairobi and Tim Hepher in Paris Written by Elias Biryabarema Edited by Alexandra Zavis, William Maclean, Helen Popper and Andrew Heavens

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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