Twenty-four people are said to have survived the Tanzanian passenger plane, Precision Air, that crashed on Sunday and claimed 19 lives.
It was earlier reported that 19 were dead in the air mishap which was blamed on bad weather, but 19 people survived the accident according to a statement by the airline on Monday.
“Precision Air regrets to confirm that 19 fatalities and 24 survivors have now been reported by the emergency services at the scene of the accident involving PW-494 which crashed at Lake Victoria in Bukoba on Sunday,” the airline said.
This report was confirmed by Tanzanian Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa who told reporters that, “All Tanzanians join you in mourning these 19 people …who have lost their lives.”
According to the reports, it was not, however, clear if the 19 victims were among the rescuers who drowned or whether the 48-seater aircraft had more people on board than previously revealed.
“We are continuing to investigate,” said Majaliwa. “There is a possibility that two people were not onboard but died during the rescue effort.”
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Precision Air, Tanzania’s largest privately-owned airline, said it had sent rescuers to the scene.
“An investigation team consisting of Precision Air technical staff and Tanzania Airports Authority has also departed to join the rescue team on the ground,” the airline said in a statement.
“We have managed to save quite a number of people,” Kagera province police Commander William Mwampaghale told journalists earlier in the day.
“When the aircraft was about 100 metres midair, it encountered problems and bad weather. It was raining and the plane plunged into the water. Everything is under control.”
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 on the incident in Dar es Salaam, a reporter said emergency services were provided at the scene.
“According to the police commander in Saidi 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.”