Air India Express Dubai-Kerala flight makes deadly crash landing

Air India Express Dubai-Kerala flight makes deadly crash landing
Air India Express Dubai-Kerala flight makes deadly crash landing

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - A pilot and at least 13 passengers were killed when an Air India Express flight from Dubai skidded off the runway while landing at Kozhikode in the south Indian state of Kerala on Friday evening.

"The ambulances are at the airport...some people are critically injured, Sujith Das, deputy commissioner of Kozhikode District Police told The National.

"More than 80 people have been taken to eight hospitals in Kozhikode and others are being taken to Mallapuram district."

Air India Express said Flight IX-1344 from Dubai was carrying 184 passengers and six crew members, including two pilots.

This is a tragic incident. From what we hear the tragedy happened because of the weather and the plane overshot the runway. The details will come in due course

Dr Aman Puri, India’s consul general in Dubai

Dr Aman Puri, India’s consul general in Dubai, said pilot Deepak Sathe was killed while the co-pilot was among those critically injured.

“Our deepest condolences go to the family members of those who have lost their lives and to others injured. We are praying the injured recover soon,” said Dr Puri.

“We stand with them in this time of grief and have activated four helplines on a 24/7 basis. This is a tragic incident. From what we hear the tragedy happened because of the weather and the plane overshot the runway. The details will come in due course.”

Dr Azad Moopen, managing director of Aster hospitals, based in the UAE and India, said three passengers died at the Aster Mims hospital in Calicut.

“Our doctors, nurses and critical care staff are on standby and will do all possible to save lives and treat the patients,” Dr Moopen told The National.

“People were brought in a serious condition. The number of deaths is increasing because of the impact when the plane cracked in the middle.

“Luckily there was no fire or explosion. Calicut airport is on a table top and due to the heavy rain the plane went off the runway and into a 40-foot gorge.”

The Indian Consulate in Dubai earlier tweeted confirmation of the crash and opened four helplines for those seeking more information.

India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation said the plane landed in heavy rain and after landing at Runway 10, it continued past the end of the runway and fell into a valley.

The ANI news agency posted footage from the crash scene on Twitter that showed the aircraft's fuselage split in two.

The Dubai to Kerala air route is one of the busiest operated from the UAE.

It is estimated that about a third of the UAE's 3 million-plus Indian residents hail from Kerala, and there are longstanding economic ties between the prosperous southern state and Gulf nations.

Friday night's Air India Express service was part of hundreds of repatriation flights running each month between the UAE and India.

Dozens of flights took to the skies from July 12 during a two-week window of repatriation flights from the UAE, as part of India's Vandhe Bharat mission to bring expats home.

That has since been extended several times, with about 90 flights due to fly between UAE and India between August 1 and 15, and another 100 or so between August 15 and 31.

To date, about 275,000 Indian expats have returned home, India's consulate in Dubai said last week.

This was the third Air India Express flight from the UAE to south India to crash on landing in the past decade. The previous incident was on June 30 last year, when a Boeing 737 overshot the runway in wet conditions at the Mangalore airport in Karnataka state. None of the crew or passengers were seriously injured.

However, a similar incident at Mangalore airport on May 22, 2010 claimed the lives of 158 people out of 174 on board. The plane overshot the runway, also in wet conditions, and plunged into a forested valley before bursting into flames.

The airports in Mangalore and Kozikhode both have tabletop runways – located on a plateau adjacent to a valley or gorge.

Updated: August 7, 2020 09:26 PM

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