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Tanzanian Precision Air plane crashes into Lake Victoria

A Tanzanian passenger plane has crashed into Lake Victoria as it attempted to land in the lakeside town of Bukoba, killing at least 19 people.

Twenty-six of the 43 people on board the Precision Air flight were initially rescued and sent to hospital.

The two pilots survived the crash and managed to speak to local officials from the cockpit but the prime minister says they may have since died.

Rescue workers and local fishermen are trying to rescue others still trapped.

Abdul Nuri was at the airport waiting for the return flight to Tanzania's biggest city, Dar es Salaam, when he saw the plane plunge into the water.

"We were really shocked. People panicked and some started crying and shouting," he told the BBC.

"At the arrivals gate people panicked as well - most of them were waiting to welcome their relatives."

He has spoken to the fishermen who were the first on the scene. They told him that they managed to get into the plane to rescue people after a flight attendant opened the rear door while the plane was in the water.

The crash has been blamed on bad weather but the rain has stopped, allowing rescuers to reach the crash site.

Emergency workers have used ropes to pull the ATR-42 aircraft closer to the shore, and some of the plane's body is now above the water. 

Immediately after the crash, the plane was almost completely submerged with only the brown and green tail fin visible.

One end of the runway at Bukoba airport lies right next to the shore of Lake Victoria, Africa's largest lake.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan has expressed her condolences to those affected and called for calm as the rescue operation continues.

The plane was flying from Das es Salaam to Bukoba via Mwanza.

Precision Air is Tanzania's largest private airline and is partly owned by Kenya Airways. It was founded in 1993 and operates domestic and regional flights.



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