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Man risks life to save plane crash survivors

A fisherman is being praised as a hero after risking his life to save passengers on a plane that crashed into a lake in Tanzania.

Nineteen of the 43 people on board died when the plane crashed into Lake Victoria in Tanzania on Sunday (local time), while trying to land at an airport nearby.

In the moments after the crash, rescuers rushed out to the sinking plane, which was owned by Precision Air, Tanzania’s largest private airline.

Among them were fisherman Majaliwa Jackson. Mr Jackson had seen the plane crash into the lake and rushed out with three other fisherman to try to help.

From his hospital bed on Monday, he told the BBC he used a rowing oar to smash the rear door and free those who were stuck at the back of the plane.

He then swam underwater to the front of the plane, where he communicated with the pilots, who gestured at the cockpit window.

On rising to the surface for air, Mr Jackson found airport security had arrived. He asked if they had anything he could use to smash the windscreen.

He was given an axe, but before he could use it, he was advised against it – the pilots had indicated there wasn’t yet any water in the sunken cockpit.

Mr Jackson dived below the surface yet again to wave goodbye to the pilots. But one made it clear he wanted to be rescued.

“He pointed out the cockpit emergency door to me,” Mr Jackson told the BBC.

“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.”

Hero offered a new job

Mr Jackson has been praised and rewarded for his heroic efforts.

He was given 1 million Tanzanian shillings ($650) and the fire and rescue service offered him a job, the BBC reported.

Tanzania’s Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said everyone in the East African country was mourning the 19 people who died in the crash.

Among the dead were the pilots Mr Jackson risked his life trying to save, as well as crew members and an infant.

Mr Majaliwa also confirmed an investigation was underway.

The plane “crash-landed” about 8.50am on Sunday, as it was approaching Bukoba airport, Precision Air said in a statement, according to Reuters.

Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation reported the plane hit the water during storms and heavy rain.

One witness saw the plane flying “unsteadily” bound for the airport. They told TBC the plane turned to land but missed and went into Lake Victoria instead.

-with Reuters

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