A Tanzanian commercial flight operated by Precision Air crashed in bad weather on Sunday into Lake Victoria, killing 19 people.
The country’s prime minister, Kassim Majaliwa, said officials believed all the bodies were found on the plane.
“We are starting to get luggage and personal effects out of 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 reduced the number of survivors to 24 in an updated statement on Sunday evening. Earlier, the carrier as well as local officials said 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 company will endeavor to provide them with information and all the assistance they need during this difficult time,” the airline said.
“The names of passengers and crew on board the aircraft will not be released until all next of kin have been notified,” he added.
The flight, comprising 39 passengers and four crew members, had taken off from Tanzania’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, and was heading for the town of Bukoba before plunging into Lake Victoria. as he prepared to land.
Video circulating on social media taken by onlookers on the shores of Lake Victoria showed the plane submerged in water with rescuers coordinating rescue efforts from nearby boats.
Precision Air CEO Patrick Mwanri appeared visibly distressed when speaking to reporters in Dar es Salaam on Sunday.
Mwanri’s voice cracked and he had to stop to wipe away his tears as he said the plane had left around 6 a.m. and he was expected in the northwest lakeside town of Bukoba, at 8:30 a.m.
“But at 8:53 a.m. our operations control center received a report that this aircraft had not arrived,” he said in a televised statement.
The accident is said to have occurred during the final approach to the airport whose runway begins right next to Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest freshwater lake.
Local officials have suggested bad weather may have played a part in the crash, saying the area had experienced heavy rain and high winds at the time.
The regional airline has opened a crisis management center and established information zones in Bukoba and Dar es Salaam to communicate with families of passengers.
Following news of the crash, the Tanzanian president took to social media to appeal for calm as rescuers worked at the site of a downed plane.
“I 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 everyone affected by this incident. Let us continue to be calm as the rescue operation continues and we pray to God for help.
Precision Air is a Tanzanian airline based in Dar es Salaam.