A domestic passenger plane plunged into Lake Victoria in Tanzania early on Sunday due to bad weather shortly before landing in the northwestern city of Bukoba, police said, adding that rescue efforts were under way.
“There was an accident involving a Precision Air plane which … crashed into water about 100 metres from the airport,” regional police commander William Mwampaghale told reporters at Bukoba airport.
No information was immediately available on the number of passengers aboard the plane, but local media reports said around 49 people were on the flight from financial capital Dar es Salaam to the lakeside city.
State-owned Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC) said 15 people had been rescued so far.
The aircraft, which had departed from the capital, Dar es Salaam, “fell in the Lake Victoria this morning due to storm and heavy rains”, TBC reported.
Video footage and images that circulated on social media showed the plane almost fully submerged, with only its green and brown-coloured tail visible above the water line.
Rescue boats were deployed and emergency workers were continuing to rescue other passengers trapped in the plane, TBC added.
Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan called for calm as the rescue operation continued.
“I have received with sadness the news of the accident involving Precision Air’s plane,” she tweeted. “Let’s be calm at this moment when rescuers are continuing with the rescue mission while praying to God to help us.”
Bukoba Airport lies on the shores of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake.
Precision Air is Tanzania’s largest privately owned airline.