By Spy Uganda Correspondent
A Precision Air flight carrying 43 people made a crash landing into Lake Victoria on Sunday while attempting to reach a nearby airport in Tanzania, the airline said.
At least three people were killed, the state broadcaster said in a tweet, citing a local official. It’s reported that 26 people have been rescued from the plane.
Flight PW494, which departed from the commercial capital Dar es Salaam, “crash landed” into the lake as it was approaching the lakeside city of Bukoba, Precision Air added.
The cause was not immediately clear, but the government broadcaster said the incident took place amid storms and heavy rains.
A witness said he saw the plane flying unsteadily as it approached the airport in poor visibility conditions, saying it took a turn for the airport but missed and went into the lake.
Video and pictures circulating on social media showed the plane almost fully submerged, with only its green and brown-coloured tail visible above the water line of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake.
Rescue boats were deployed, and emergency workers were continuing to pull trapped passengers from the plane.
Footage from the broadcaster showed scores of residents standing along the shoreline and others wading into the shallow waters, as rescuers carried on with their efforts.
Rescue workers were in touch with the pilots in the cockpit and were attempting to pull the plane from the lake, Albert Chalamila, the chief administrator of Tanzania’s Kagera region told reporters.
Local media later quoted Chalamila as saying three bodies had been pulled from the aircraft.
The plane was carrying 39 passengers, including an infant, as well as four crew members, the airline said.
Precision Air, Tanzania’s largest privately owned airline, identified the aircraft as an ATR42-500.
Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan called for calm as the rescue operation continued.
“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.”