Home NEWS Tanzania’s Precision Air plane crashes into Lake Victoria

Tanzania’s Precision Air plane crashes into Lake Victoria

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Tanzania’s Precision Air plane crashes into Lake Victoria

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The aircraft went down into the lake while attempting to land at an airport in Bukoba during stormy weather.

A Precision Air plane has crashed into Lake Victoria in Tanzania while attempting to land at an airport during bad weather.

An official said 26 people had been rescued so far on Sunday, but it was unknown whether there were any deaths.

Regional commissioner Albert Chalamila said 43 people – including 39 passengers, two pilots and two cabin crew – were on board the plane.

“As we speak, we have managed to rescue 26 people who were taken to our referral hospital,” Chalamila said. “The rescue operation is still ongoing and we are communicating with the pilots.”

The plane departed from the commercial capital, Dar-es-Salaam, and “fell in the Lake Victoria this morning due to storm and heavy rains” in Bukoba.

“We have managed to save quite a number of people,” Kagera province police commander William Mwampaghale told journalists.

“When the aircraft was about 100 metres [328 feet] midair, it encountered problems and bad weather. It was raining and the plane plunged into the water. Everything is under control.”

Tanzania map showing town of Bukoba

News reports showed photos of the plane mostly submerged in the lake with only its green and brown-coloured tail visible above the water line.

Speaking to Al Jazeera from Dar-es-Salaam, journalist Faraji Saidi said emergency services were at the scene.

“According to the police commander in Bukoba, the plane crashed due to bad weather, fog. It is raining around that area. Rescue efforts are still ongoing. The airline has worked in Tanzania for so long and has had no crashes,” Saidi said.

Bukoba Airport is on the shores of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake. Rescue boats were deployed and emergency workers continued to rescue other passengers trapped on the plane.

Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan called for calm during the rescue operation.

“I have received with sadness the news of the accident involving Precision Air’s plane,” she tweeted. “Let’s be calm at this moment when rescuers are continuing with the rescue mission while praying to God to help us.”

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Precision Air is Tanzania’s largest privately-owned airline.

tanzania plane crash
People look at Precision Air plane that crushed into Lake Victoria [Kanyika/ @startvtanzania1 via Reuters]

DAR ES SALAAM – A plane carrying 43 people plunged into Lake Victoria in Tanzania early on Sunday due to bad weather shortly before it was due to land in the northwestern city of Bukoba, police said, with efforts under way to rescue those onboard.

“There was an accident involving a Precision Air plane which… crashed into water about 100 metres from the airport,” regional police commander William Mwampaghale told reporters at Bukoba airport.

Regional commissioner Albert Chalamila said 43 people, including 39 passengers, two pilots and two cabin crew, were aboard the flight from financial capital Dar es Salaam to the lakeside city in Kagera region.

“As we speak, we have managed to rescue 26 people who were taken to our referral hospital,” Chalamila said.

“The rescue operation is still ongoing and we are communicating with the pilots,” he said, adding that more details would be shared later.

Precision Air, which is Tanzania’s largest private airline, released a brief statement confirming the accident.

“The rescue team has been dispatched to the scene and more information will be released in 2 hours’ time,” the airline said.

Video footage broadcast on local media showed the plane largely submerged as rescuers waded through water to bring people to safety.

Emergency workers attempted to lift the aircraft out of the water using ropes, assisted by cranes.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan expressed her condolences to those affected by the accident.

“Let’s continue to be calm while the rescue operation continues as we pray to God to help us,” she said on Twitter.

Precision Air, which is partly owned by Kenya Airways, was founded in 1993 and operates domestic and regional flights as well as private charters to popular tourist destinations such as the Serengeti National Park and the Zanzibar archipelago.

The accident comes five years after 11 people died when a plane belonging to safari company Coastal Aviation crashed in northern Tanzania.

In March 2019, an Ethiopian Airlines flight from from Addis Ababa to Nairobi plunged six minutes after take-off into a field southeast of the Ethiopian capital, killing all 157 people on board.

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In 2007, a Kenya Airways flight from the Ivory Coast city of Abidjan to Kenya’s capital Nairobi crashed into a swamp after take-off, killing all 114 passengers.

In 2000 another Kenya Airways flight from Abidjan to Nairobi crashed into the Atlantic Ocean minutes after take-off, killing 169 people while 10 survived.

Rescue operations were underway in Tanzania on Sunday after a plane carrying 39 passengers, including an infant, crashed into Africa’s largest lake, the airline said in a statement.

Out of the 39 passengers on board the Precision Air flight, 26 had been rescued and taken to hospital, it said in a statement. “We are yet to confirm the number of fatalities from the scene of the accident,” it said, adding that 4 crew members were also on board the flight.

“We have managed to save quite a number of people,” Kagera province police commander William Mwampaghale told journalists.

“When the aircraft was about 100 meters (328 feet) midair, it encountered problems and bad weather. It was raining and the plane plunged into the water,” he said. “Everything is under control.”

Footage verified by NBC News showed the plane almost completely submerged in the lake with rescue boats around its green and yellow tail.

Tanzanian Precision Air said in a statement on Facebook that its flight PW494, flying from the commercial hub of Dar es Salaam on the eastern coast of the country, was “involved in an accident as it was approaching Bukoba airport.” The airline said the aircraft was a ATR42-500 — a twin-jet turboprop manufactured by the Italian-French company ATR.

Bukoba is on the western edge of Lake Victoria, which is on the border with Uganda and Kenya.

“The rescue team has been dispatched to the scene,” Precision Air said.

“I have received with sadness the news of the accident involving Precision Air’s plane,” Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu wrote on Twitter. “Let’s be calm at this moment when rescuers are continuing with the rescue mission while praying to God to help us.”

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