Death Toll Hits 19 in Lake Victoria Plane Crash

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A plane crashed Sunday morning into Lake Victoria as it approached an airport in Tanzania, killing 19 people on board, the country’s prime minister said. A senior policeman said it was raining when the aircraft plunged into the water. Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa raised the death toll up from the three dead announced previously. Local authorities said earlier Sunday that 26 of the 43 people on the Precision Air flight from the coastal city of Dar es Salaam were rescued and taken to a hospital, the AP reports. It was not clear if the new death toll included people who died at the hospital. Photos showed the plane, which was headed to Bukoba Airport, mostly submerged in the lake.

“We have managed to save quite a number of people,” Kagera province police commander William Mwampaghale told journalists. He said that when the plane was around 328 feet in the air, “it encountered problems and bad weather. It was raining and the plane plunged into the water,” he said. Fisherman Majaliwa Jackson has been officially declared a hero for his efforts to rescue passengers and crew. Jackson tells the BBC that he rushed to the scene with fellow fishermen when he saw the plane plunge into the lake. He says he helped smash the rear door open with an oar, allowing passengers to escape. Jackson was hospitalized with injuries suffered in an unsuccesful attempt to rescue the pilots. He has been awarded 1 million Tanzanian shillings—around $430—and offered a job in a fire and rescue brigade.

(Read more plane crash stories.)

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