The government needs to “build adequate capabilities” for its search and rescue teams, according to a report from the Transport Ministry.
After the plane, more passengers are said to have been rescued Crash in Tanzania earlier this month if aid workers were better prepared and rescue operations started more quickly, a government report concluded.
Investigators said the cause of the crash is still being investigated “but the possibility of wind shear (downdraft) cannot be ruled out”. The report published Tuesday is the first of three reports to be published over the coming year.
Nineteen people were killed when the Precision Air airliner carrying 43 people crashed into Lake Victoria on November 6, sparking a frantic rescue effort by nearby fishermen who arrived first and used canoes to get people to safety.
Police blamed bad weather for the disaster, but President Samia Suluhu Hassan promised a formal inquiry into Tanzania’s worst aviation accident in decades as anger grew over the government’s handling of the rescue.
Precision Air, which is part-owned by Kenya Airways, said last week it had started the process to compensate the families of victims of the accident, but gave no indication of the amount owed to them.
Delays, lack of preparedness
“If immediate rescue operations could have taken place, it is very likely that more people would have survived,” the ministry’s Air Accident Aviation Division said in its preliminary report.
There was a fire station in the northwestern city of Bukoba where the plane attempted a third approach to land just before 09:00 (06:00 GMT) amid thunderstorms and high winds, but the 10 firefighters were not equipped for offshore operations, researchers said.
There was a single naval police unit conducting water rescues, but they were not notified until 15 minutes after the crash and did not arrive until five hours later, as she was on patrol elsewhere.
“The boat arrived at the scene around 10:49 a.m. (1:49 p.m. local time), but divers were unable to complete their work due to lack of oxygen in the cylinders” and insufficient fuel, the report said.
“Before the arrival of the police-marine unit, one of the local fishermen started to recover the dead bodies from the wreck.”
The report advised the government to “build adequate capabilities” for its search and rescue teams.
Most of the casualties were in the submerged front of the aircraft, which nose dived into the lake, with the two pilots unable to escape from the cockpit. They too were among the dead.
A crew member unlocked a rear door with the help of a “muscular” passenger who helped survivors into the canoes and fishing boats that arrived minutes after the crash, the report said.
The approach to Bukoba is known for its difficulty in adverse weather conditions, but the pilot was “very experienced” and was from the area, he added.
But given the weather conditions — thick clouds, lightning, fog and high winds were reported — the pilot “should have chosen to either divert to Mwanza or circle around until the weather conditions improved,” the report said.
The aircraft was an ATR 42-500 turboprop made by the French-Italian aircraft manufacturer ATR.