Death toll rises to 19 in Tanzania plane crash

Death toll rises to 19 in Tanzania plane crash

The death toll from Sunday's plane crash in Tanzania has risen to 19, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said after the Precision Air flight with dozens of passengers plunged into Victoria while approaching the northwestern city of Bukoba.

Majaliwa told a crowd after arriving at the Bukoba airport where the flight had been scheduled to land from the financial capital Dar es Salaam, all Tanzanians are with you in mourning the 19 people who lost lives during the accident.

Regional authorities said 26 survivors of the 43 people on board the flight PW 494 had been pulled to safety and taken to a hospital in the lakeside city.

A company named Precision Air, which is Tanzania's largest private airline, said in a statement that 24 people had survived the accident, with an airline official telling AFP that the other two hospitalised patients were not aboard the plane to begin with.

He said two people who were injured during rescue efforts were counted as survivors, but they were not passengers.

The airline said it had dispatched rescuers and investigators to the scene and expressed its deepest sympathies over the accident, which occurred around 08: 53 am 0553 GMT on Sunday.

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 shown on local media showed the plane largely submerged as rescuers, including fishermen, waded through water to bring people to safety.

Emergency workers tried to lift the aircraft out of the water using ropes, assisted by cranes, as residents tried to help.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan expressed her condolences to those affected by the accident, saying: We pray to god to help us. The disaster is one of the deadliest plane crashes in the East African nation's history.

The US embassy in Dar es Salaam released a statement that paid tribute to the heroic efforts of first responders, especially ordinary citizens who helped rescue victims. The chair of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki MahamatFaki Mahamat, 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 the Victoria Lake, with our full solidarity to the Government people of Tanzania, Faki wrote on Twitter.

The East African Community sends condolences to Mama Samia Suluhu Hassan, the families and friends of all those affected by the Precision Air plane accident, as well as on Twitter, Mathuki said.

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

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

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

The disaster, five months after a similar crash in Indonesia, triggered a global grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX model of jet for 20 months, before it returned to service in late 2020.

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

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

A year ago, a dozen people, including 10 US tourists, died in a plane crash in northern Tanzania while flying between Serengeti National Park and Kilimanjaro Airport.