Opposition politicians in Tanzania are criticizing the government for its emergency response to a plane crash Sunday in Lake Victoria that left 19 people dead, including the pilots. Authorities say they were communicating with the pilots immediately after the Precision Air plane crashed on its way from Dar es Salaam to the Kagera region.  

Fisherman were among the first responders to the scene, where they used their small boats to try to rescue people on the plane. 

Speaking with the BBC, fisherman Majaliwa Jackson — who was one of the first to arrive — said he tried to save the pilots who were stuck in the cockpit. He was stopped by a public announcement speaker who said they were already in communication with the pilots and there was no water leakage in the cockpit. 

Tanzania opposition politicians are criticizing authorities, saying a quicker respond to the incident could have saved lives. 

James Mbatia, opposition party leader, questioned whether the response would have been different had the plane been carrying government leaders. He added that the deaths were not God’s will, but were due to negligence at the top. 

Philbert Macheyeki, a shadow minister for communication and transportation for the opposition Alliance for Change and Transparency political party, said the incident has shamed the country in emergency and rescue systems, and those responsible should be held accountable. 

Innocent Bashungwa, minister of defense, responded to public concerns on the need to strengthen the rescue system by saying the government will work on the issue. 

Earlier Monday, a funeral service for the 19 victims was held at Kaitaba Stadium, a local football venue in Bukoba. Tanzania’s Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa was among the hundreds of people who attended the service. 

Meanwhile, authorities say an extensive investigation will be carried out to establish the cause of the crash. 

 

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