he death toll from the crash of an Air India Express plane that overshot the runway in heavy rain near Kozhikode has risen to 19 on Friday morning, officials said as top aviation experts landed in the state to begin an investigation into the accident.
As many as 172 people have been hospitalised after the accident, with officials involved in the rescue operations saying that 16 of them are in a critical condition. Civil aviation minister Hardeep Puri said the accident appears to have been caused by a slippery runway as the pilot attempted to land on the table top runway amid heavy rains.
18 people, including two pilots, have lost their lives in the incident. pic.twitter.com/r1YRiIkbrM
— ANI (@ANI) August 8, 2020
“Under the Vande Bharat Mission, the flight was coming from Dubai carrying 190 passengers. Pilot must have tried to bring the flight to the end of tabletop airport’s runway where it skidded due to slippery conditions owing to monsoon,” he said.
The government has sent two special relief flights from Delhi and from Mumbai for rendering humanitarian assistance to all the passengers and the family members.
The Boeing-737 flight from Dubai to Calicut International Airport was carrying 190 passengers and crew, the civil aviation ministry said in a statement. Among them were 10 infants.
Television footage showed rescue workers moving around the wreckage in pouring rain. The aircraft lay split into at least two chunks after the plane’s fuselage sheared apart as it fell into a valley 35 feet below, authorities said.
Visited the crash site at #Calicut Airport. Officials of @airindiain and AAI briefed on how the accident had occurred. The investigation is on to ascertain various aspects of the crash.@narendramodi @AmitShah @HardeepSPuri @JPNadda @surendranbjp @MoCA_GoI @MEAIndia pic.twitter.com/yiU3f7EZJH
— V Muraleedharan (@VMBJP) August 8, 2020
“Because of the weather conditions, he could not land the first time, so he did a turnaround and tried to approach it from a different direction,” Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri told national broadcaster DD News, adding that only an investigation would reveal the cause of the crash.
India’s top aviation body, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), has ordered a detailed inquiry into the matter. It said the plane broke into “two pieces” after landing at the airport.
“The aircraft didn’t land properly. It was raining heavily, it then skid off the runway and fell into a 35-ft valley. Two dead is what we know as per initial reports but the rescue operation is on,” DGCA Director Arun Kumar told CNN-News18. “We are ascertaining the situation.”