A Tanzanian commercial flight operated by Precision Air crashed in bad weather in Lake Victoria on Sunday, killing 19 people.
The country’s prime minister, Kassim Majaliwa, said officials believe all bodies have been recovered from the plane.
“We are starting to remove luggage and personal belongings 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 to 24 in an updated statement late Sunday. Earlier, the carrier and local officials had said that 26 of the 43 people on board had been rescued.
“Precision Air extends its deepest condolences to the families and friends of the passengers and crew involved in this tragic incident. The airline will endeavor to provide them with information and any assistance they may need at this difficult time,” said the airline.
“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, which included 39 passengers and four crew members, had taken off from Tanzania’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, and was heading to the city of Bukoba before it went down in 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 water with emergency responders coordinating rescue efforts from nearby boats.
Precision Air CEO Patrick Mwanri looked visibly distressed as he spoke to reporters in Dar es Salaam on Sunday.
Mwanri’s voice broke and she had to stop to wipe away tears as she said the plane had left at around 6am local time and was waiting in the northern town of Bukoba -west of the lake, at 8.30 in the morning.
“But at 8.53am our Operations Control Center received a report that the plane had not arrived,” he said in a televised statement.
The crash is believed to have happened on final approach to the airport, whose runway begins right next to Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest freshwater lake.
Local authorities suggested bad weather may have played a role in the crash, saying the area had been under heavy rain and strong winds at the time.
The regional airline has opened a crisis management center and established information areas in Bukoba and Dar es Salaam to communicate with passengers’ families.
Following news of the crash, Tanzania’s president took to social media to appeal for calm as rescue workers 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. Let us remain calm as the rescue operation continues and pray to God to help us.”
Precision Air is a Tanzanian airline based in Dar es Salaam.