19 killed, 26 survives Precision Air plane crash – Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa confirmed the Precision Air crash in Bukoba, Kagera Region on Sunday has killed 19 people on board with one of the survivors, Richard Komba, speaking of the ordeal, saying it would haunt him for life.
Flight PW-494 crash landed in Lake Victoria as it attempted to land at the Bukoba Airport with at least 26 surviving the crash.
Narrating the ordeal, Mr Komba who was travelling from Dar es Salaam to Bukoba recounted that the aircraft left in Dar es Salaam at around 6.15 a.m and the weather was good, but when they approached Bukoba, it changed and it appeared they could not land.
“The pilot was forced to turn around Misenyi District and informed us that the weather was bad, although he will try to go back and land… the pressure was high, the plane was heavily shaking only for us to discover that the plane was already submerged into the lake,” he narrated.
He further said: “The passengers seated on the front seats were soaked in water before approaching us also struggling to vacate the plane… at the same time the flight attendant was struggling to open the rear door, but we don’t know if she managed or not, only to find ourselves outside.”
According to him, they could not get immediate help until a canoe paddled appeared and in a commotion every survivor was scampering to board.
On the other hand, eye witnesses Mwaloni Nyamukazi and Ashimu Rashid, who alleged to have rescued seven survivors, said that due to lack of proper equipment and training, they failed to save more people.
“The passengers who managed to open the emergency door of the plane were engulfed in shock and no one was saying anything after vacating the plane… one of the women I saved was injured on her feet.
Speaking late on Sunday after arriving in Bukoba to join in the rescue efforts following, Mr Majaliwa demanded the authorities to find and come clear with the number of passengers on board the ill-fated plane.
“When I was in Arusha I was informed that the Precision Air aircraft was carrying 43 passengers. However, after arriving in Bukoba I was told the number of passengers was 45. We want to know where the two passengers came from.
At least 26 passengers were rescued alive and were immediately rushed to the Bukoba Regional Referral Hospital for medical treatment,” he said.
Speaking in an interview with the ‘Daily News’, an aviation expert, Mr Renatus Kyalaba indicated that the deaths might have been triggered by suffocation after the aircraft plunged into the lake, forcing the engine to switch off.
“Although we have not been informed of the main cause, the possibility is that the engine went off and people suffocated,” noted Mr Kyalaba, pointing out that if the plane had taxed on the runway in comparison to water, it could have been another case.
Before sad news of the 19 deaths was announced, Kagera Regional Medical Officer (RMO), Dr Issessanda Kaniki had said that 26 passengers were admitted to the Bukoba Regional Referral Hospital as 17 males and 6 females.
In three separate press conferences to address and give updates on the accident, Precision Air’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Patrick Mwanri indicated that the accident involved flight PW-494 5H-PWF, ATR42-500, which was flying from Dar es Salaam to Bukoba when the accident occurred at 08:53 a.m.
“The flight was expected to land at Bukoba Airport at around 8.30 a.m. but around 8.53 a.m. the Control Operations Centre obtained information that the plane was yet to land.
“The PW 494 aircraft was traveling with a capacity of 45 passengers registered as 39 passengers (38 adults and one infant) and 4 crew on board… a team of specially-trained Precision Air personnel and TCAA are on their way to Bukoba to provide, whatever support and assistance that may be required at the scene,” he noted.
“Precision Air extends its deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the passenger and crew involved in this tragic accident. The company will strive to provide them with information and whatever assistance they will require in this difficult time.