At least 19 people have died after a Precision Air passenger plane crashed into Lake Victoria on Sunday as it attempted to land in the northwestern city of Bukoba.
The aircraft crashed on Sunday morning due to bad weather shortly before landing in the northwestern city of Bukoba, police said.
Of the 43 people on board flight PW 494, 24 survived, according to operator Precision Air – Tanzania’s largest private carrier.
Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa confirmed 19 people on board were killed.
“All Tanzanians are with you in mourning the 19 people who lost lives during this accident,” he told a crowd after arriving at Bukoba airport, where the flight had been scheduled to land from financial capital Dar es Salaam.
The airline said it had dispatched rescuers and investigators to the scene and expressed its “deepest sympathies” over the accident, which occurred at around 08:53 am (0553 GMT) on Sunday.
The company, partly owned by Kenya Airways, said the aircraft was an ATR 42-500, manufactured by Toulouse-based Franco-Italian firm ATR, and had 39 passengers – including an infant – and four crew members on board.
Video footage broadcast on local media showed the plane largely submerged as rescuers, including fishermen, waded through water to bring people to safety.
Unbelievable!! Bystanders are pulling the plane out of Lake Victoria with rope.No emergency rescue services at all!!Only in #Tanzania😢😢😢😢 https://t.co/vRn4OI68w2— fatma karume aka Shangazi (@fatma_karume) November 6, 2022
Emergency workers attempted to lift the aircraft out of the water using ropes, assisted by cranes as residents also sought to help.
President Samia Suluhu Hassan expressed her condolences to those affected by the accident, saying: “We pray to god to help us.”
The US embassy in Dar es Salaam released a statement, paying tribute to “the heroic efforts of first responders, especially ordinary citizens who helped rescue victims.”
The disaster ranks among the deadliest plane crashes in Tanzania‘s history.
It comes five years after 11 people died when a plane belonging to safari company Coastal Aviation crashed in the north of the country.