The Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB), has recommended the government to build adequate capability to its rescuing units for the implementation of search and rescue operations during occurrences.
Citing the Airports Rescue and Fire Fighting Services and Marines Rescue Unit as an example, AAIB added that there should be a well-structured and effective coordinated aviation and marine search and rescue operation.
The recommendations from the investigation unit which is under the work and transport ministry, comes three weeks after the Precision Air plane crashed into Lake Victoria on November 6, killing 19 people, prompting a frantic rescue effort by nearby fishermen who were the first to arrive and used canoes to pluck people to safety.
Police blamed bad weather for the disaster, but President Samia Suluhu Hassan promised a formal investigation into Tanzania’s worst aviation accident in decades as anger grew over the government’s handling of the rescue effort.
But in an official statement issued late Tuesday, the ministry’s air accident aviation branch said more passengers would likely have survived a deadly plane crash into Lake Victoria earlier this month had emergency workers been prepared and rescue operations acted swiftly.
The transport ministry said in an official statement issued late Tuesday that the official search was delayed, and rescuers were ill-equipped to carry out the required duties.
“If there could have been immediate rescue operations, it is most likely that more people would have survived,” the AIIB said in its preliminary report.
It adds: There was a fire station staffed at the northwestern city of Bukoba, where the plane attempted to land on a third approach amid thunderstorms and strong winds just before 9am. But the 10 firemen present were not equipped for offshore operations when the plane nosedived sharply into the water.
The report went on to reveal that the Police Marine unit at the nearby Bukoba port was informed about the Precision Air crash 15 minutes after the crash, but it’s patrol boat arrived at the scene more than two hours later and divers were unable to perform rescue duty for lack of oxygen in the bottles.
“There is no Control Tower at Bukoba airport. All aircraft operating into the airport use the services of the Mwanza Approach on frequency 122.8MHz until they report Bukoba insight. Subsequently the flight crew switch from the said frequency to 118.2 MHz which is the unmanned frequency for approach and landing at Bukoba,” AAIB report.
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