Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Tanzania investigating crash landing into Lake Victoria that killed 19

By Leo Sands | The Washington Post |

Tanzanian officials are investigating how a passenger jet crash-landed into Lake Victoria, killing 19 people near the northwestern city of Bukoba as it attempted to land at a nearby airport.

As of Sunday evening local time, emergency services had rescued 24 survivors from the site of the crash, operator Precision Airlines said in a statement. The flight from Dar es Salaam to Bukoba crashed around 8:53 a.m. local time, it said.

A total of 43 people, including 39 passengers and four crew members, were onboard the flight when it crashed, the airline said, adding that one of the passengers was an infant.

“Precision Air extends its deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the passenger and crew involved in this tragic accident,” the airline said in its statement.

Hilary Mremi, a spokesman for the airline, told The Washington Post on Monday morning that rescue efforts were complete. But he said there were no further updates on an investigation into the cause of the accident.

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The number of crash survivors was lowered from a figure provided in an earlier statement by the airline, which initially said there were 26 survivors.

In a tweet, Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan expressed her condolences to the families of the victims and thanked those who took part in the emergency rescue operation.

Tanzanian Minister of Construction and Transport Makame Mbarawa said information about the accident’s cause would be released when the investigation is complete, and he insisted that air travel in the country is safe, according to local media.

The airline identified the downed aircraft as an ATR42-500. In a statement posted to Facebook, the manufacturer of the model, French-Italian firm ATR Aircraft, said its officials were supporting the investigation into the crash in line with “established international protocols.” The aircraft manufacturer added, “Our first thoughts are with the families and individuals affected by this accident.”

Photographs from the scene of the crash show emergency workers using small boats to rescue stranded survivors and ropes to pull the passenger jet to Lake Victoria’s shore.

According to survivors and witnesses, the crash happened after the plane encountered poor weather and the pilot decided to redirect the aircraft.

“We were then informed that we would be landing shortly, but there was heavy turbulence. We later found ourselves in the lake,” survivor Richard Komba told BBC News. “Water then entered the plane, and those sitting near the front were covered by it. I was in the back seat, and most of us in the back of the plane struggled to get out.”