Tanzania’s president on Monday ordered officials to strengthen the country’s disaster response at an emergency cabinet meeting, a government spokesman said, after its handling of the deadliest plane crash in decades sparked anger among citizens.
Nineteen people died when the Precision Air plane plunged into Lake Victoria on November 6, prompting a frantic rescue effort by emergency workers, fishermen and residents to pluck people to safety from the largely submerged aircraft.
Police blamed bad weather for the accident, which shocked Tanzanians and raised questions about the government’s emergency response, with an investigation now under way into the disaster.
President Samia Suluhu Hassan chaired the meeting in the capital Dodoma, spokesman Gerson Msigwa told reporters, urging citizens to remain calm until the probe is completed.
“The cabinet has directed local aviation experts to cooperate with their foreign counterparts to investigate the source of accidents and recommend what is needed to be done to ensure safety in aviation and prevent such kinds of accidents,”Msigwa said.
“The cabinet has also ordered strengthening of the emergency response and government units responsible for disaster management,”he said.
He said the investigators would issue a bulletin within 14 days of the probe, followed by a preliminary report in 30 days, with the final report expected to take up to a year.
What about the families of the plane crash fatalities?
Precision Air said Monday that it had started the process to compensate the families of those killed in the accident, but gave no indication about the amount due to them.
Last week, Tanzania Insurance Regulatory Authority said the airline’s insurance cover was $50 million for damage to its aircrafts and up to $170 million for planes and passengers.
It added however that a final figure could only be established after the investigation was completed.
“We have started contacting the families of the respective victims and telling them what is needed from them, as well as explaining the whole process,” the airline’s CEO Patrick Mwanri told reporters.
“I want to assure everyone that all relevant laws and procedures regarding… compensation will be observed,”he said.
Twenty-four survived out of the 43 people aboard flight PW 494 from financial capital Dar es Salaam to the northwestern city of Bukoba.
Precision Air, which is partly owned by Kenya Airways, was founded in 1993 and operates domestic and regional flights as well as private tourist charters.
© Agence France-Presse