November 29, 2023

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AIR CRASH ON LAKE VICTORIA: Fisherman who saved 24 souls relates his experience, enlisted in Firefighting rescue brigade; investigation begins

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A gush of emotion between Tanzania Prime Minister, (L) Kassim Majaliwa, and the fisherman, Majaliwa Jackson, at a reception in honour of the fisherman

Tanzania’s government has employed the local fisherman who played a crucial role to save the lives of 24 passengers among the 45 souls on board the crashed, Precision Air, on Sunday, on Lake Victoria, while approaching landing at the Bukoba airport.

The Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa, at a public reception in honour of the gallant fisherman, Majaliwa Jackson, announced that President Samia Suluhu Hassan had directed that fisherman Jackson be immediately employed and trained as an officer of the Fire Fighting and Rescue Service of Tanzania.

The Kagera Regional Commissioner, under whose jurisdiction the accident occurred, Albert Chalamila, made a gift of Sh1 million to Jackson the fisherman who was now a candidate for training to become a Fire Fighting and Rescue Officer.

Regional Commissioner, Albert Chalamila said, “I congratulate this young fisherman who bravely used a paddle to open the door of the plane and managed to save the 24 passengers inside the plane,” said Chalamila

Chalamila further said the “fisherman was injured during the rescue operation but his condition has improved”.

In a related development, the Chief of the Fire and Rescue Service, Commissioner General John Masunga, in a media statement said it was his pleasure to “inform the public that Majaliwa Jackson Samuel, has been received by the Fire and Rescue Service. Thus, the instructions of President Samia Suluhu Hassan, has already been implemented,” reads the statement.

He stated further, “Majaliwa is expected to start fire and rescue training as well as other related training at the Fire and Rescue Army Academy located in Chogo, Handeni district in Tanga region,”

The Prime Minister, Majaliwa announced that an investigation had begun to unravel the immediate and remote causes of the accident of Precision Air, flight PW494, from Dar es Salaam, to Bukoba.

A local media report said a spokesperson from BEA in Paris had confirmed that a team had been assembled and in touch with aircraft engine manufacturers in Spain and the firm in Canada with the brand name as the aircraft manufacturer, had all been contacted and more than willing to participate in the investigation.

It is not very clear if the leading agency in air accident investigation in Africa, Accident Investigation Bureau, AIB-N, had been contacted or the Banjul Accord Group Accident Investigation, BAGGAI.

The young fisherman who put his life on the line to rescue occupants of the crashed Precision Air, ATR 42-500, narrated his efforts that succeeded in saving 24 souls of the 45 on board the aircraft.

He highlighted how his efforts to save the cockpit crew were discouraged and made more cumbersome by an airport officer who refused him the axe to break the cockpit window.

Efforts to force the emergency door of the cockpit open nearly cost him his life.

He however succeeded in breaking the emergency exit at the rare which enabled 24 passengers to have their lives extended.

While the 19 passengers who likely occupied the front-row seats were not that lucky.

Below is the account of Jackson Samuel Majaliwa, a cadet with the Fire Fighting and Rescue Brigade of Tanzania who until last Sunday was a fisherman.

The first responder, Majaliwa Jackson Samuel, who with three others rescued 24 souls alive from Precision Air crash

Speaking from his hospital bed in Bukoba before the government announcement; Jackson said he panicked as he saw the airplane approach from the wrong direction, before plunging into the lake.
He rushed to the scene with three fellow fishermen and helped to open the rear door by smashing it with a rowing oar which helped passengers seated in the rear of the plane to be rescued.

Jackson said he then moved to the front and dived into the water. He then communicated with each other by making signs through the cockpit window.

“He directed me to break the window screen. I emerged from the water and asked airport security, who had arrived if they have any tools that we can use to smash the screen.

“They gave me an axe, but I was stopped by a man with a public announcement speaker from going down to smash the screen. He said they were already in communication with the pilots and there was no water leakage in the cockpit,” Mr. Jackson said.

He added that after being stopped he “dived back and waved goodbye to the pilot”.
But the pilot then indicated that he still wanted to be rescued.

“He pointed out the cockpit emergency door to me. I swam back up and took a rope and tied it to the door and we tried to pull it with other boats, but the rope broke and hit me in the face and knocked me unconscious. The next thing I know I was here at the hospital,” Mr. Jackson said.

Both pilots are among the 19 confirmed fatalities.
By Bethsheba Wambura
Reporter: Mwananchi Communication Ltd
Additional report by BBC

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