As many as 19 people were killed after a Tanzanian passenger airplane crashed into Lake Victoria while trying to attempt landing during stormy weather. The commercial flight, which was operated by Precision Air, had 43 people including 39 passengers, two pilots and two cabin crew, on board when it crashed.
The pilots had initially survived and managed to inform local officials about the incident from the cockpit. Local authorities had earlier said that 26 survivors out of the 43 people on board flight PW 494 had been pulled to safety and taken to a hospital in Bukoba, a lake-side city in the Kagera region.
Albert Chalamila, a regional officer, said it was not clear if the 19 victims included rescuers who drowned or whether the 48-seater aircraft had more people on board than previously undisclosed. He said they are continuing with investigations. "There is a possibility that two people were not onboard but died during the rescue effort."
Precision Air CEO Patrick Mwanri appeared to be visible shaken and distressed when speaking to the media that had gathered in Dar es Salaam. He said the plane had departed around 6 am local and had been expected in the northwestern lakeside town of Bukoba at 8.30 am. However, at 8.53 am, the Operations Control Center received a report that the aircraft had not arrived.
Crash Due to Bad Weather
Officials believe the incident happened on the final approach to airport; its runway begins right next to Lake Victoria – Africa's largest freshwater lake. Bad weather is expected to be behind the fatal crash as the area had been under heavy rainfall and strong winds at the time.
Precision Air has an investigation team, which comprises of Precision Air technical staff and Tanzania Airports Authority (TAA), looking into the incident. Commander William Mwampaghale of the Kagera province police said they managed to save a number of people. He revealed that when the aircraft was about 100 metres midair, it encountered problems and bad weather. "It was raining and the plane plunged into the water."