Mourners weep over 19 coffins after Tanzania plane crash

Weeping relatives of the 19 people who died when a plane crashed into Lake Victoria in Tanzania filed past a row of coffins in the lakeside town of Bukoba on Monday as religious and political leaders gathered for a ceremony to honour the victims.

Flight PW494, operated by Tanzanian airline Precision Air and carrying 43 people, hit the water in stormy weather as it tried to land at Bukoba airport early on Sunday morning, arriving from the capital Dar es Salaam.

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Transport Minister Makame Mbarawa told mourners gathered in a stadium that the weather had abruptly changed from good to stormy just as the plane was approaching the airport.

“There was rain accompanied by thunderstorms and heavy wind which had downdraft,” he said, referring to a downward current.

The Tanzanian authorities were investigating the causes of the crash and would publish their findings, he said.

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A team from France’s BEA air accident investigation agency along with technical advisers from Franco-Italian plane-maker ATR, which built the ATR 42-500 turboprop, were on their way to Tanzania to assist, a BEA spokesman said.

In Bukoba, the 19 coffins were carried into the stadium by Tanzanian troops, then laid in a row, each decorated with flowers and a photograph of the deceased person. Relatives bowed their heads and some broke down in tears as they filed past.

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(With input from Reuters)

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