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At least 19 killed as Tanzanian passenger plane crashes into Africa’s largest lake

Twenty-six of the 39 passengers were rescued and taken to a nearby hospital, Precision Air said.

Rescue operations were underway in Tanzania on Sunday after a plane carrying 39 passengers, including an infant, crashed into Africa’s largest lake, the airline said in a statement. 

At least 19 people were killed, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said.

Of the 39 passengers aboard the Precision Air flight, 26 were rescued and taken to hospital, the airline said in a statement. “We are yet to confirm the number of fatalities from the scene of the accident,” it said, adding that four crew members were also onboard.

“We have managed to save quite a number of people,” Kagera province police commander William Mwampaghale told journalists. 

“When the aircraft was about 100 meters midair, it encountered problems and bad weather. It was raining, and the plane plunged into the water,” he said. “Everything is under control.” 

Video verified by NBC News showed the plane almost completely submerged in the lake with rescue boats around its green and yellow tail.

Tanzanian Precision Air said in a statement on Facebook that the flight, PW494, from the commercial hub of Dar es Salaam on the eastern coast of the country, was “involved in an accident as it was approaching Bukoba airport.” The airline said the aircraft was a ATR42-500 — a twin-jet turboprop manufactured by the Italian-French company ATR.

Bukoba is on the western edge of Lake Victoria, which is on the border with Uganda and Kenya. 

“The rescue team has been dispatched to the scene,” Precision Air said.

“I have received with sadness the news of the accident involving Precision Air’s plane,” Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu wrote on Twitter. “Let’s be calm at this moment when rescuers are continuing with the rescue mission while praying to God to help us.” 

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