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World

Web Desk
August 8, 2020

Air India plane with 191 passengers aboard crashes in Kerala, leaving 16 dead

World

Web Desk
Sat, Aug 08, 2020
Television pictures showed part of the Air India plane's fuselage ripped apart, although there was no sign of any fire. Twitter/Shiv Aroor (@ShivAroor)/via The News

NEW DELHI: At least 16 people were killed and more than 15 others were seriously injured Friday when an Air India Express flight IX 1344 operated by B737 aircraft from Dubai skidded off the runway in heavy rain, Indian media reported.

Air India Express said more than 190 passengers and crew were on board the plane, which left from Dubai and landed at Kozhikode airport in the southern state of Kerala.

Television pictures showed part of the fuselage of the jet ripped apart, although there was no sign of any fire.

"I can confirm at least 14 deaths overall. Another 15 passengers have critical injuries. It is still a developing situation," senior local police officer Abdul Karim told AFP.

"We have at least 89 people, many of them with serious injuries, admitted at different Kozhikode hospitals. The ambulances are still coming in," said Sujith Das, another senior police official.

"We have been told that all those who have survived the crash also have some form of injuries."

One of those killed was one of the two pilots, a Kerala state deputy said.

Aviation regulator DGCA said the plane skidded off the end of the runway and "fell down in the valley and broke down in two pieces".

An Air India Express spokesperson said the aircraft appeared to have overshot the runway.

One television channel reported there had been a problem with the jet´s landing gear.

Air India Express said in a statement that there was "no fire reported at the time of landing."

It said there were 174 passengers, 10 infants, two pilots and five cabin crew on board the aircraft.

"As per the initial reports, rescue operations are on and passengers are being taken to hospital for medical care," it said.

An emergency services official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP: "Rescue operations are on but the rains are making it difficult."

Television pictures showed emergency services personnel working in the dark and spraying the wreckage with water.

Condolences pour in

Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared his condolences, saying he was "pained by the plane accident in Kozhikode" and that his "thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones".

"May the injured recover at the earliest... Authorities are at the spot, providing all assistance to the affected," he wrote on Twitter.

Indian home minister Amit Shah said he was "distressed to learn about the tragic incident".

"Have instructed the [National Disaster Response Force] to reach the site at the earliest and assist with the rescue operations," he said.

Nirmala Sitharaman, India's Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs, said she is "shocked to know of the Air India Express tragedy in Kozhikode".

"Hope and prayers for all on board. [I] understand that [National Disaster Response Force] is being rushed to the spot," she added.

Meanwhile, Saral Patel of the opposition Congress party, shared "devasting" visuals from the crash site.

"Thought[s] with the victims and their families and prayers for the survivors," he wrote.

PM Imran offers condolences

Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his condolences over the air crash, saying he was "saddened to learn of the Air India plane crash in Kerala state leading to loss of innocent lives".

"May Allah give strength to the bereaved families in their difficult hour," he wrote on Twitter.

Last crash in 2010

The last major plane crash in India was in 2010 when an Air India Express Boeing 737-800 from Dubai to Mangalore overshot the runway and burst into flames.

The crash killed 158 people and left eight survivors.

Kerala has been battered by heavy rains in recent days.

At least 15 people were killed on Friday after a landslide triggered by heavy rains flattened a row of huts elsewhere in the state.

Around 50 other people were feared trapped in the debris. The dead included two children.

—Additional input from AFP