Thirty-five passengers and four crew members aboard a Dash 8-300 aircraft belonging to Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL) escaped death yesterday when the plane skidded off the run way at Kigoma airport while taking-off for Dar es Salaam via Tabora.
However, aviation officials confirmed that the accident, which occurred in the morning, seriously damaged the plane, the only aircraft belonging to the national flag carriers. The acting Kigoma regional police commander, Mr Kihenya Kihenya, said the plane skidded off the run way after it failed to take-off when its tyres stuck in muddy potholes.
The deputy minister for Transport, Mr Athuman Mfutakamba, told a press conference that no one was hurt. Speaking on telephone from the western Lake Tanganyika shore town of Kigoma, the regional commissioner, Lt. Col. (rtd) Issa Machibya, said when he received information about the accident he rushed to the airport.
The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Transport, Mr Omar Chambo, said a crisis meeting between ministry officials and ATCL officials to discuss the matter was to be held.
He said the government was trying to find an immediate intervention to rescue passengers who have been stranded in Kigoma.
ATCL acting chief executive officer Paul Chizi said aviation experts were expected to travel to Kigoma to assess the extent of damage done to the plane. “I am waiting for a report from the experts but I am told the plane has been badly damaged,” he said, adding that ATCL was working on the possibility of acquiring a charter plane to ferry the stranded passengers.
He said they tried to hire a government plane but it could not be possible because the plane had already other scheduled flights. The national carrier resumed operations in November last year—after being out of business for eight months—with daily return flights from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma via Tabora.
Reported by Mkinga Mkinga and Fariji Msonsa in Dar es Salaam and Anthony Kayanda in Kigoma.