At least 19 people have been killed after a jet crashed into Lake Victoria in Tanzania shortly before its scheduled landing in the city of Bukoba.
Regional commissioner Albert Chalamila said that 43 people were onboard flight PW 494 from the country’s financial center, Dar es Salaam, including 39 passengers.
“As we speak, we have managed to rescue 26 people who were taken to our referral hospital,” Chalamila said.
“The rescue operation is still ongoing and we are communicating with the pilots.”
Tanzanian Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said all bodies are believed to have been recovered from the aircraft.
“We’re starting to pull out the luggage and personal items from the aircraft. A team of doctors and security agencies have started the process of identifying the dead and notifying the families,” Majaliwa said.
Precision Air announced the death toll and that 24 people had survived the crash, revising an earlier statement claiming 26 survivors .
“Precision Air extends its deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the passenger and crew involved in this tragic incident. The company will strive to provide them with information and whatever assistance they will require in their difficult time,” the airline said in a statement.
“The names of passengers and crew on board the aircraft will not be released until all next-of-kin have been notified.”
While the crash is yet to be subjected to thorough investigation, initial assessments suggest the crash occurred on the final approach to the airport’s runway, which is adjacent to Lake Victoria.
Local officials suggested that weather conditions may played a role in the disaster, noting that the area was experiencing heavy rainfall and high winds at the time of the crash.
Local fishermen were the first to reach the scene of the accident, and rescued some passengers via a rear exit.
Once all those on board the flight had been accounted for, emergency personnel attempted to remove the airplane out of the water using ropes and cranes.
The accident is Tanzania’s worst air disaster since a Coastal Aviation flight crashed in the north of the country five years ago, claiming 11 lives.