A Tanzanian commercial flight operated by Precision Air crashed in bad weather on Lake Victoria on Sunday, killing 19 people.
The country’s prime minister, Kassim Majaliwa, said officials believed all the bodies had been recovered from the plane.
“We have started removing luggage and personal items from the plane. A team of doctors and security agencies have started the process of identifying the dead and notifying the families,” Majaliwa said.
The airline confirmed the death toll and revised the number of survivors up to 24 in an updated statement Sunday evening. Earlier, the carrier and local officials had said that 26 of the 43 people on board had been rescued.
“Precision Air extends its deepest sympathies to the families and friends of the passengers and crew involved in this tragic incident. The company is committed to providing the information and any assistance they need at this difficult time “, the airline said.
“The names of the passengers and crew on board the aircraft will not be released until all next of kin have been notified,” he added.
The flight, including 39 passengers and four crew members, had departed from the Tanzanian commercial capital of Dar es Salaam and was headed for the city of Bukoba before it plunged into Lake Victoria. while preparing to land.
Video circulating on social media taken by onlookers on the shores of Lake Victoria showed the plane submerged in the water with emergency responders coordinating rescue efforts from nearby boats.
Precision Air CEO Patrick Mwanri appeared visibly distressed while speaking to reporters in Dar es Salaam on Sunday.
Mwanri’s voice broke and she had to pause to wipe away tears as she said the plane had left at around 6am local morning and was expected to land in the northwestern town of Bukoba at 8.30am.
“But at 8.53 am our Operations Control Center received a report that that plane had not arrived,” he said in a televised statement.
The accident is believed to have occurred on final approach to the airport whose runway begins right next to Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest freshwater lake.
Local officials suggested bad weather may have played a role in the accident, saying the area had been under heavy rainfall and strong winds at the time.
The regional airline has opened a Crisis Management Center and established information points in Bukoba and Dar es Salaam to communicate with the families of passengers.
Following news of the crash, Tanzania’s president took to social media to call for calm as rescuers worked at the site of a downed plane.
“I have received with sadness the information of the crash of the Precision Air flight at Lake Victoria, in the Kagera region,” President Samia Suluhu Hassan wrote on Twitter on Sunday.
“I send my condolences to all those affected by this incident. We continue to be calm while the rescue operation continues and we pray to God to help us.
Precision Air is a Tanzanian airline based in Dar es Salaam.