Sat, 19 Sep 2020

DUBAI, UAE - An Air India Express flight from Dubai with 190 people on board skidded off a runway and split in two while landing on Friday in heavy rain in southern India. Police said at least 17 people were killed and 123 others injured.

Abdul Karim, a senior Kerala state police officer, said the dead included one of the pilots. He said at least 15 of the injured were in critical condition, and that rescue operations were over

First responders gather around the wreckage of an Air India Express jet, from Dubai, after it crashed by overshooting the runway at Calicut International Airport in Karipur, Kerala, on August 7, 2020. (AFP)

First responders gather around the wreckage of an Air India Express jet, from Dubai, after it crashed by overshooting the runway at Calicut International Airport in Karipur, Kerala, on August 7, 2020. (AFP)

Rajiv Jain, a spokesman for the Civil Aviation Ministry, said no fire was reported on the Boeing 737 aircraft after it landed and broke into two pieces.

The NDTV news channel said the plane flew from Dubai to Kozhikode, also called Calicut, in the state of Kerala in southern India.

It was a repatriation flight carrying Indian citizens back to the country, officials said. Regular commercial flights have been halted in India because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Jain said there were 174 adult passengers, ten infants, 2 pilots and four cabin crew on board the aircraft.

Amitabh Kant, who heads the government's planning commission, said the runway is on a hilltop with deep gorges on either side, making it difficult to land.

"The incident happened because of heavy rains and poor visibility. This is truly devastating," he told NDTV.

The two-year-old Boeing 737-800 flew from Dubai to Kozhikode, also called Calicut, in Kerala, India's southernmost state, the airline said.

Health workers transfer an injured passenger on a stretcher to take her to a hospital in Kozhikode, Kerala, after the Air India Express crashed at Calicut International Airport, on August 7, 2020. (AFP)

Health workers transfer an injured passenger on a stretcher to take her to a hospital in Kozhikode, Kerala, after the Air India Express crashed at Calicut International Airport, on August 7, 2020. (AFP)

A similar tragedy to Friday's was narrowly avoided at the same airport a year ago, when an Air India Express flight suffered a tail strike upon landing. None of the 180 passengers of that flight were injured.

Kozhikode's 2,850-meter (9,350-foot) runway is on a flat hilltop with deep gorges on either side ending in a 34-meter (112-foot) drop.

An inquiry will be conducted by the ministry's Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau, he said.

The airport's runway end safety area was expanded in 2018 to accommodate wide-body aircraft.

The runway end safety area meets United Nations international civil aviation requirements, but the UN agency recommends a buffer that is 150 meters (492 feet) longer than what exists at Kozhikode airport, according to Harro Ranter, chief executive of the Aviation Safety Network online database.

First responders inspect the wreckage of an Air India Express jet, which was carrying more than 190 passengers and crew from Dubai, after it crashed by overshooting the runway at Calicut International Airport in Karipur, Kerala, on August 7, 2020. (AFP)

First responders inspect the wreckage of an Air India Express jet, which was carrying more than 190 passengers and crew from Dubai, after it crashed by overshooting the runway at Calicut International Airport in Karipur, Kerala, on August 7, 2020. (AFP)

"Unfortunately, 16 people have lost their lives. I offer my condolences to their next of kin and pray for speedy recovery of the injured," Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said in a tweet.

Overshot the runway, says Aviation Minister

Puri said in a statement that the flight "overshot the runway in rainyconditions and went down" the slope, breaking into two pieces upon impact.He said rescue operations had been completed and all passengers had been removed from the aircraft. Police said earlier four people were stuck in the wreckage.

The civil aviation ministry said in a statement there was no fire on board.

Expert: Too early to determine cause

Dubai-based aviation consultant Mark Martin said that while it was too early to determine the cause of the crash, annual monsoon conditions appeared to be a factor.

"Low visibility, wet runway, low cloud base, all leading to very poor braking action is what looks like led to where we are at the moment with this crash," Martin said, calling for the European Aviation Safety Agency and the US Federal Aviation Administration to assist with the Indian government's investigation.

Health workers transfer an injured passenger on a stretcher to take her inside a hospital in Kozhikode, Kerala, after an Air India Express jet crashed by overshooting the runway at Calicut International Airport, on August 7, 2020. (AFP)

Health workers transfer an injured passenger on a stretcher to take her inside a hospital in Kozhikode, Kerala, after an Air India Express jet crashed by overshooting the runway at Calicut International Airport, on August 7, 2020. (AFP)

The Air India Express flight was part of the Indian government's special repatriation mission to bring Indian citizens back to the country, officials said. All of the passengers were returning from the Gulf region, authorities said. Regular commercial flights have been halted in India because of the coronavirus outbreak.

First responders inspect the wreckage of an Air India Express jet from Dubai which crashed when it skidded off the runway after landing in heavy rain at Calicut International Airport in Karipur, Kerala, on August 7, 2020. (AFP)

First responders inspect the wreckage of an Air India Express jet from Dubai which crashed when it skidded off the runway after landing in heavy rain at Calicut International Airport in Karipur, Kerala, on August 7, 2020. (AFP)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that he was "pained by the plane accident in Kozhikode," and that he had spoken to Kerala's top elected official. "My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones. May the injured recover at the earliest," he said.

Worst disaster in India in 1996

The worst air disaster in India was on November12, 1996, when a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight collided midair with a Kazakhastan Airlines Flight near Charki Dadri in Haryana state, killing all 349 on board the two planes.

Air India Express AXB1344, was a government-operated repatriation flight for Indians previously unable to return home because of the travel restrictions.

An ambulance carrying injured passengers leaves for a hospital after an Air India Express jet, which was carrying more than 190 passengers and crew from Dubai, crashed by overshooting the runway at Calicut International Airport in Karipur, Kerala, on August 7, 2020. (AFP)

An ambulance carrying injured passengers leaves for a hospital after an Air India Express jet, which was carrying more than 190 passengers and crew from Dubai, crashed by overshooting the runway at Calicut International Airport in Karipur, Kerala, on August 7, 2020. (AFP)

TV visuals showed the aircraft's nose smashed into a brick wall, with much of the middle of the plane pulverized.

Local TV news channels showed passengers, some of them lying motionless on stretchers, brought into a hospital surrounded by health workers wearing masks because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Air India Express is a subsidiary of Air India.

Ambulances to transfer injured passengers hospitals in Kozhikode, Kerala, after an Air India Express jet crashed by overshooting the runway at Calicut International Airport, on August 7, 2020. (Reuters)

Ambulances to transfer injured passengers hospitals in Kozhikode, Kerala, after an Air India Express jet crashed by overshooting the runway at Calicut International Airport, on August 7, 2020. (Reuters)

Source: Al Arabiya

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