A Precision Air flight crashed into Lake Victoria Sunday morning, killing 19 people including both pilots.
The disaster occurred shortly after take off at 8:50 a.m. local time when the ATR-42 aircraft operated by the Tanzanian airline encountered bad weather during a flight from Dar es Salaam on the coast of Tanzania to Bukoba on the western shore of Africa’s largest lake.
The plane was coming in for a landing before the aircraft dropped from 385 feet into the lake, CBS reports. The plane was originally almost totally submerged in the lake, but rescuers were able to wade out and save survivors who waited for rescue by boat. Eventually, first responders used ropes to put the aircraft closer to the shore. The 24 survivors were rescued so quickly because the plane crash close to the shore of the massive 26,600-square-mile Lake Victoria. The Bukoba airport’s runways end right at the lakeshore. From the BBC:
Richard Komba, a survivor of the crash, told the BBC that when the plane was about to land, the weather had deteriorated, forcing the pilot to reroute the aircraft.
“We were then informed that we would be landing shortly, but there was heavy turbulence. We later found ourselves in the lake,” Mr Komba said.
“Water then entered the plane and those sitting near the front were covered by it. I was in the back seat and most of us in the back of the plane struggled to get out.”
He said one cabin crew member was struggling to open the aircraft’s door, but he was eventually able to be freed.
“When we got out, no boat was there – it took quite long to get rescued but the boat that came was not so good, it was a canoe.”
He said the survivors were “scared” because of the number of people trying to fit in the one vessel, but he said other rescue boats arrived minutes later.
Tanzania’s Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said the rescued passengers were in hospital and were not seriously injured, “but they are shocked and worried”.
Officials are still working on identifying all of the victims of the crash. The airport is closed until further notice, and officials are promising a full investigation into the plane crash.