Sunday morning in Tanzania, at least 26 passengers were rescued from a plane that crashed into Lake Victoria owing to severe weather.
The plane, which was allegedly carrying 45 passengers, was scheduled to land in the city of Bukoba in the country’s northern region just before the crash, authorities stated as they searched for survivors.
“There was an accident involving a Precision Air plane that… crashed into water around 100 meters (328 feet) from the airport,” William Mwampaghale, the regional police chief, told reporters at Bukoba airport.
Regional commissioner Albert Chalamila reported that 43 individuals, including 39 passengers, two pilots, and two cabin crew, were aboard aircraft PW 494 from Dar es Salaam to the lakeside city in the Kagera area.
“As we speak, 26 people have been rescued and transported to our referral hospital,” Chalamila stated.
“The rescue operation is still ongoing, and we are in contact with the pilots,” he said, adding that the aircraft was an ATR-42 made by the Franco-Italian company ATR in Toulouse.
Precision Air, the largest private airline in Tanzania, issued a brief statement acknowledging the incident.
The rescue team has been dispatched to the area, and the airline will disclose additional information in two hours.
Rescuers, including fishermen, waded into the river to carry people to safety as the jet was largely buried on video footage published by local media.
Emergency personnel attempted to remove the airplane from the water using ropes and cranes, while residents also attempted to assist.
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President Samia Suluhu Hassan offered her sympathies to the victims of the catastrophe.
“Let’s be calm while the rescue operation continues and pray to God for assistance,” she tweeted.
“Thoughts and prayers”
The chair of the African Union (AU) Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, and the secretary general of the regional East African Community group, Peter Mathuki, also expressed their sympathies.
“Our hearts and prayers are with the families of the passengers aboard the plane that crashed into Lake Victoria,” he wrote on Twitter. “We stand in solidarity with the Government and people of #Tanzania.”
Mathuki tweeted, “The East African Community joins in sending condolences to Mama Samia Suluhu Hassan and the relatives and friends of all those affected by the Precision Air plane crash.”
Precision Air was created in 1993 and conducts internal and regional flights as well as private charters to renowned tourist locations like the Serengeti National Park and the Zanzibar archipelago. The airline is partially owned by Kenya Airways.
Five years ago, eleven passengers perished when a plane operated by safari business Coastal Aviation crashed in northern Tanzania.
In March 2019, an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft from Addis Ababa to Nairobi crashed into a field six minutes after takeoff, killing all 157 passengers and crew aboard.