Plane carrying 43 people plunges into Lake Victoria in Tanzania


A plane crash has killed 19 people after the aircraft, carrying 43 people, plunged into Lake Victoria in Tanzania after it was affected by bad weather- 100 yards short of the airport where it was due to land.

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa gave the new death toll, up from the three whose bodies were earlier recovered from the scene.

While the two pilots earlier spoke to local officials from the cockpit, according to the BBC, the prime minister has said they may have died since then.

Precision Air flight PW 494 was scheduled to fly from Dar es Salaam to Bukoba airport carrying 39 passengers, two pilots and two cabin crew when it plunged into the water at around 8.30am local time (5.30 GMT).

Regional commissioner Albert Chalamila earlier said that 26 people were rescued and taken to hospital. It was not clear if any of those who were rescued died at the hospital.

Using ropes, emergency workers have managed to get the plane closer to shore and moved some of the plane’s body out of the water.

Kagera province police commander William Mwampaghale told journalists: ‘We have managed to save quite a number of people.

‘When the aircraft was about 328 feet midair, it encountered problems and bad weather. It was raining and the plane plunged into the water.’

He told journalists that rescue efforts were continuing at the scene. The airport is closed until further notice and authorities will conduct an investigation into the crash.

Speaking to the BBC, Abdul Nuri said he was at the airport waiting for the return flight to Dar es Salaam when he saw the crash. 

He said: ‘We were really shocked. People panicked and some started crying and shouting.

‘At the arrivals gate people panicked as well – most of them were waiting to welcome their relatives.’

Mr Nuri spoke to the fishermen who were the first people to wade into the water to help rescue the passengers. 

The rescue could begin because a flight attendant opened the rear door while the plane was in the water so fishermen could get into the plane and help people to escape. 

Footage online posted online earlier in the day showed rescuers, including fishermen, wading through water to bring people to safety.

Emergency services using ropes to attempt to lift the aircraft out of the water were assisted by cranes and local residents. 

The Precision Air flight PW 494 was flying from Dar es Salaam to Bukoba airport carrying 39 passengers, two pilots and two cabin crew. Pictured: Rescuers in boats are seen around the tail fin of the crashed plane 

Regional commissioner Albert Chalamila said that 26 people have so far been rescued and taken to hospital. Pictured: Rescuers in boats at the scene of the crash

Regional commissioner Albert Chalamila said that 26 people have so far been rescued and taken to hospital. Pictured: Rescuers in boats at the scene of the crash

Emergency services attempted to lift the aircraft out of the water using ropes, assisted by cranes and local residents also helped. Pictured: People work at the scene to find survivors

Emergency services attempted to lift the aircraft out of the water using ropes, assisted by cranes and local residents also helped. Pictured: People work at the scene to find survivors 

Rescuers attempt to recover the Precision Air passenger plane that crashed into Lake Victoria in Bukoba, Tanzania

Rescuers attempt to recover the Precision Air passenger plane that crashed into Lake Victoria in Bukoba, Tanzania

Rescuers attempt to recover the Precision Air passenger plane that crashed into Lake Victoria in Bukoba, Tanzania

Rescuers attempt to recover the Precision Air passenger plane that crashed into Lake Victoria in Bukoba, Tanzania

The Precision Air passenger plane that crashed into Lake Victoria in Bukoba, Tanzania (pictured)

The Precision Air passenger plane that crashed into Lake Victoria in Bukoba, Tanzania (pictured)

Footage online shows rescuers, including fishermen, wading through water to bring people to safety. Pictured: Rescuers at the scene

Footage online shows rescuers, including fishermen, wading through water to bring people to safety. Pictured: Rescuers at the scene 

The aircraft was an ATR-42, manufactured by Toulouse-based Franco-Italian firm ATR. 

A statement was released by the airline, confirming the accident, saying: ‘The rescue team has been dispatched to the scene and more information will be released in two hours time.’

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

She tweeted: ‘Let’s continue to be calm while the rescue operation continues as we pray to God to help us.’  

The aircraft was an ATR-42, manufactured by Toulouse-based Franco-Italian firm ATR. Pictured: A group of rescuers in the water

The aircraft was an ATR-42, manufactured by Toulouse-based Franco-Italian firm ATR. Pictured: A group of rescuers in the water 

A statement was released by the airline, confirming the accident, saying: 'The rescue team has been dispatched to the scene and more information will be released in two hours time.' Pictured: The scene

A statement was released by the airline, confirming the accident, saying: ‘The rescue team has been dispatched to the scene and more information will be released in two hours time.’ Pictured: The scene 

Pictured: Rescuers use ropes to try and pull the plane out of Lake Victoria in Tanzania

Pictured: Rescuers use ropes to try and pull the plane out of Lake Victoria in Tanzania 

President Samia Suluhu Hassan, pictured, expressed her condolences to those affected by the accident. She tweeted: 'Let's continue to be calm while the rescue operation continues as we pray to God to help us'

President Samia Suluhu Hassan, pictured, expressed her condolences to those affected by the accident. She tweeted: ‘Let’s continue to be calm while the rescue operation continues as we pray to God to help us’

Also expressing their condolences was the African Union Commission chair Moussa Faki Mahamat, pictured, who wrote on Twitter: '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'

Also expressing their condolences was the African Union Commission chair Moussa Faki Mahamat, pictured, who wrote on Twitter: ‘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’

Elsewhere, the secretary general of the regional East African Community bloc, Peter Mathuki, pictured, said: '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'

Elsewhere, the secretary general of the regional East African Community bloc, Peter Mathuki, pictured, said: ‘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’

Also expressing their condolences was the African Union Commission chair Moussa Faki Mahamat, who wrote on Twitter: ‘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.’ 

Elsewhere, the secretary general of the regional East African Community bloc, Peter Mathuki, said: ‘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.’

Precision Air is partly owned by Kenya Airways and was founded in 1993. It 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 crash comes five years after eleven people including American and German tourists died in a plane crash in northern Tanzania. 

Two Americans, two Germans, six Tanzanians, and a South African pilot were all killed when their Cessna Caravan aircraft crashed in Ngorongoro National Park on 15 November 2017.

‘We are deeply saddened to report that eleven people have died after a single-plane accident this morning in Northern Tanzania,’ the company said in a statement published on its website at the time. 

The crash comes five years after eleven people including American and German tourists died in a plane crash in northern Tanzania. Pictured: A body is carried out of the site of the crash in 2017

The crash comes five years after eleven people including American and German tourists died in a plane crash in northern Tanzania. Pictured: A body is carried out of the site of the crash in 2017

Two Americans, two Germans, six Tanzanians, and a South African pilot were all killed when their Cessna Caravan aircraft crashed in Ngorongoro National Park. Pictured: The site of the 2017 plane crash

Two Americans, two Germans, six Tanzanians, and a South African pilot were all killed when their Cessna Caravan aircraft crashed in Ngorongoro National Park. Pictured: The site of the 2017 plane crash

Pictured: Air accident investigators inspect a crashed plane at the Empakaai Crater, a caved volcanic caldera in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Plane crash, Arusha, Tanzania on 16 Nov 2017

Pictured: Air accident investigators inspect a crashed plane at the Empakaai Crater, a caved volcanic caldera in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Plane crash, Arusha, Tanzania on 16 Nov 2017

Pictured: Air accident investigators inspect a crashed plane at the Empakaai Crater, a caved volcanic caldera in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Plane crash, Arusha, Tanzania on 16 Nov 2017

Pictured: Air accident investigators inspect a crashed plane at the Empakaai Crater, a caved volcanic caldera in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Plane crash, Arusha, Tanzania on 16 Nov 2017

In 2019, 157 passengers and crew died when an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft crashed within minutes of take-off in Addis Ababa.

Crash witness Gebeyehu Fikadu, 25, told CNN he was collecting firewood nearby when he saw the plane ‘swerving’.

He said: ‘I was in the mountain nearby when I saw the plane reach the mountain before turning around with a lot of smoke coming from the back and then crashed at this site.

‘It crashed with a large boom. When it crashed luggage and clothes came burning down.

‘Before it crashed the plane was swerving and dipping with a lot of smoke coming from the back and also making a very loud unpleasant sound before hitting the ground.’

In 2019, 157 passengers and crew died when an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft crashed within minutes of take-off in Addis Ababa (stock image)

In 2019, 157 passengers and crew died when an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft crashed within minutes of take-off in Addis Ababa (stock image)

Flight-tracking data revealed that the plane’s vertical speed – the rate of climb or descent – varied from 2,624 feet per minute to minus 1,216 within minutes of take-off.

Aviation experts described the data as extremely unusual at the time, saying that once a plane has taken off the vertical speed should rise or remain stable. 

Expert Sally Gethin said the plane’s rapidly fluctuating speed may indicate that the aircraft stalled in the moments before it crashed.

She said: ‘It’s the rate of climb or descent – the most critical phases of flight. Instability at that point e.g. too slow – could destabilise the aircraft, potentially risking stalling and other hazardous consequences. It might indicate the pilots had difficulty controlling the climb/ascent.’

A piece of charred luggage from ET Flight 302 can be seen in the foreground as local residents collect debris at the scene

A piece of charred luggage from ET Flight 302 can be seen in the foreground as local residents collect debris at the scene

Wreckage lies at the crash site after the Ethiopian Airlines jet came down within minutes of take-off

Wreckage lies at the crash site after the Ethiopian Airlines jet came down within minutes of take-off

An experienced pilot told MailOnline the activity was highly unusual.

He said: ‘A positive number indicates the aircraft is going up. After takeoff you would expect all these numbers to be positive as the aircraft climbed away from the ground, or zero if they are flying level.

‘The small amount of data released so far indicates that after only one minute or so of the flight this aircraft started a descent at a rate of up to 1920 feet per minute down. If the data is correct that is extremely unusual.

‘The data then shows the aircraft going up and down until the data stops. That is why some people are referring to unstable vertical speed.

‘You would not expect a descent unless you were immediately returning, and if that was the case you wouldn’t then expect the aircraft to climb again.

‘After takeoff aircraft either climb or fly level for a period then climb again.’  

Rescue team collect bodies in bags at the crash site of Ethiopia Airlines near Bishoftu, a town some 60 kilometres southeast of Addis Ababa

Rescue team collect bodies in bags at the crash site of Ethiopia Airlines near Bishoftu, a town some 60 kilometres southeast of Addis Ababa

The wreckage of the plane - showing the colours of the Ethiopian flag on the plane's livery - lies at the scene of the crash

The wreckage of the plane – showing the colours of the Ethiopian flag on the plane’s livery – lies at the scene of the crash 

Another witness, Tegegn Dechasa, told AFP ‘the plane was already on fire when it crashed to the ground. The crash caused a big explosion.’

Malka Galato, the farmer whose land the plane crashed on, told Reuters he saw small items that looked like paper coming from the plane.

The jet was making a strange noise and made a sudden turn just before it crashed, he said.

Another farmer Sisay Gemechu, added: ‘The plane seemed to be aiming to land at a nearby level open field, but crashed before reaching there.’     

The plane seems to have suffered a rapid increase in vertical speed in the moments before its crash

The plane seems to have suffered a rapid increase in vertical speed in the moments before its crash

Pictured: A man looks at his phone outside the Ethiopian Airlines offices in downtown Nairobi, Kenya

Pictured: A man looks at his phone outside the Ethiopian Airlines offices in downtown Nairobi, Kenya

In 1996 after a hijacking and a failed water landing, 125 people died on Flight 961 in Moroni, the capital of the Union of the Comoros in the Indian Ocean.

And in January 2010, 82 passengers and eight crew died when EA flight 409 from Beirut to Addis Ababa slammed into the Mediterranean shortly after take-off. 

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.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk