A Tanzanian commercial airliner operated by Precision Air crashed in bad weather in Lake Victoria on Sunday, killing 19 people.
The country’s prime minister, Qassem Majaliwa, said officials believe all bodies have been recovered from the plane.
We started taking baggage and personal items off the plane. Majaliwa explained that the team of doctors and security services began the process of identifying the dead and notifying the families.
The airline confirmed the death toll and revised the number of survivors to 24 in an updated statement Sunday night. Earlier, the carrier and local officials said that 26 of the 43 people on board had been rescued.
“Precision Air expresses its deepest condolences to the families and friends of the passengers and crew involved in this tragic accident. The airline will strive to provide them with the information and any assistance they will need in their difficult times.
“The names of passengers and crew members on board will not be revealed until all their relatives have been notified,” she added.
The flight, which included 39 passengers and four crew members, had taken off from Tanzania’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam and headed for Bukoba before sinking into Lake Victoria. While she was preparing to land.
A video clip shared on social media by onlookers on the shores of Lake Victoria showed the plane submerged in water with emergency responders coordinating rescue efforts from nearby boats.
Precision Air CEO Patrick Mwannery looked visibly sad as he spoke to reporters in Dar es Salaam on Sunday.
Mwanri’s voice broke and he had to stop to wipe the tears as he said the plane left around 6am local time and was expected to arrive in the northwest lakeside town of Bukoba at 8:30am.
“But at 8.53 am, our operations control center received a report that the aircraft did not arrive,” he said in a televised statement.
The accident is believed to have occurred on final approach to the airport whose runway begins next to Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest freshwater lake.
Local officials indicated that bad weather may have played a role in the accident, saying that the area was under heavy rain and strong winds at the time.
The regional airline has opened a crisis management center and established information areas in Bukoba and Dar es Salaam to communicate with the families of passengers.
After news of the plane crash, the president of Tanzania took to social media to call for calm while rescuers worked at the site of a plane crash.
“It is with sadness that I received information about the crash of the Precision Air in Lake Victoria, Kagera District,” President Samia Solo Hassan wrote on Twitter on Sunday.
I send my deepest condolences to all those affected by this accident. Let’s stay calm as the rescue operation continues and ask God to help us.”
Precision Air is a Tanzanian airline based in Dar es Salaam.