The government should “develop adequate capabilities” for its search and rescue teams, says a report by the Ministry of Transport.
More passengers would have been saved after the plane crash in Tanzania earlier this month if emergency workers had been better prepared and rescue operations launched more quickly, a government report has concluded.
Investigators said the cause of the crash was still under investigation “but the possibility of wind shear (downdraft) cannot be ruled out.” The report issued Tuesday is the first of three to be published over the next year.
Nineteen people died when the Precision Air passenger plane carrying 43 people sank in Lake Victoria on November 6, prompting a frantic rescue effort by nearby fishermen who were the first to arrive and used canoes. to rescue people.
Police blamed bad weather for the disaster, but President Samia Suluhu Hassan promised a formal investigation into Tanzania’s worst plane crash in decades as anger grew over the government’s handling of the rescue effort.
Precision Air, which is partly owned by Kenya Airways, said last week it had started the process to compensate the families of those killed in the crash, but gave no indication of the amount owed.
Delays, lack of preparation
“Had there been immediate rescue operations, most likely more people would have survived,” the ministry’s air crash aviation branch 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 amid thunderstorms and high winds just before 9 am (0600 GMT), but the 10 firefighters were not equipped to offshore operations, the researchers said.
There was a single marine police unit that carried out water rescues, but they were not notified until 15 minutes after the accident and did not arrive until five hours later as they were on patrol elsewhere.
“The ship arrived at the site at around 10:49 a.m. (1:49 p.m. local time), however, the divers were unable to carry out their tasks due to lack of oxygen in the cylinders” and insufficient fuel, according to the report.
“Before the arrival of the Police Marine Unit, one of the local fishermen began the process of recovering the bodies from the rubble.”
The report recommended that the government should “develop adequate capabilities” for its search and rescue teams.
Most of the victims were in the submerged front of the plane, which had plunged into the lake, while the two pilots were unable to escape from the cockpit. They too were among the dead.
A crew member opened a rear door with the help of a “muscular” passenger who helped survivors into canoes and fishing boats that arrived minutes after the crash, according to the report.
The approach to Bukoba is known to be difficult in bad weather conditions, but the pilot was “very experienced” and a local, he added.
But given the weather conditions — thick clouds, lightning, fog and strong winds were reported — the pilot “should have opted to divert to Mwanza or circle until weather conditions improved,” according to the report.
The aircraft was an ATR 42-500 turboprop made by the French-Italian aircraft manufacturer ATR.