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Tanzanian passenger plane crashes into Lake Victoria

November 6, 2022

A Precision Air plane plunged into the water due to bad weather, police said. At least 19 people died in the crash and more than 20 have been reportedly taken to a hospital.

Rescuers attempt to recover the Precision Air passenger plane that crashed into Lake Victoria in Bukoba, Tanzania
Rescuers in boats and standing in the water are seen around the tail fin of a crashed Precision Air passenger aircraft on the shores of Lake VictoriaImage: REUTERS

A Precision Air plane crashed into Lake Victoria killing at least 19 people on Sunday as it approached the northwestern Tanzanian city of Bukoba, police said.

Tanzanian Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa gave the new death toll, raising it up from three.  

Precision Air said in a statement that 24 people had survived the accident and were taken to hospital.  Two other people hospitalized following the incident were injured in rescue efforts but were not on board the flight, the AFP news agency cited an official as saying.

Earlier, local authorities said 26 of those on board the plane were rescued and taken to a hospital.

What do we know about the crash?

Officials said a total of 43 people were on board the flight — including 39 passengers, two pilots and two cabin crew.

The domestic passenger plane had departed from the financial capital Dar es Salaam. It later plunged into Lake Victoria as it was approaching the northwestern city of Bukoba.

According to the police, "bad weather" caused the crash as the plane was flying at about 100 meters (328 feet).

"When the aircraft was about 100 meters midair, it encountered problems and bad weather. It was raining and the plane plunged into the water,'' regional police commander William Mwampaghale told reporters.

Passenger plane plunges into Lake Victoria

Tanzanian state broadcaster Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC) reported that Flight PW494 hit the water during storms and heavy rain. The flight was operated by Precision Air, which is Tanzania's largest private carrier.

The airline said the aircraft was an ATR 42-500, manufactured by Tolouse-based Franco-Italian company ATR.

Local authorities said rescuers "managed to save quite a number of people."

How have leaders reacted?

Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan sent condolences to "all those affected by the accident" and called for calm. 

"I have received with sadness the news of the accident involving Precision Air's plane," she wrote on Twitter, urging for calm amid rescue efforts.

Tanzania's prime minister echoed the head of state's statement after arriving at Bukoba airport.

"All Tanzanians are with you in mourning the 19 people who lost lives during this accident," Majaliwa said.

The African Union Commission chair Moussa Faki Mahamat also shared his condolences, as did the secretary general of the regional East African Community bloc, Peter Mathuki.

"Our hearts and prayers go to the families of passengers on-board a plane that crashed into Lake Victoria, with our full solidarity to the Government & people of Tanzania," Faki wrote on Twitter.

"The East African Community joins and sends our condolences to Mama Samia Suluhu Hassan, families and friends of all those who were affected by the Precision Air plane accident," Mathuki said, also on Twitter.

Sunday's crash is one of the deadliest to occur in the East African country.

sdi, fb/sms, rs (AFP, AP, Reuters)