Officials inspect the site where a passenger plane crashed at the Calicut airport in Karipur, India. Reuters
The death toll from an Indian passenger aircraft accident has risen to 18, while 16 people have been severely injured, a senior government official said on Saturday.
The Air India Express plane, which was repatriating Indians stranded in Dubai due to the coronavirus pandemic, overshot the runway of the Calicut International Airport in heavy rain near the southern city of Kozhikode on Friday. This was India's worst passenger aircraft accident since 2010.
The Boeing-737 flight from Dubai was flying home Indians stranded overseas due to the coronavirus pandemic. There were 190 passengers and crew on board, 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 he plane's fuselage sheared apart as it fell into a valley 30 feet below, authorities said.
Media reports suggested that the plane skidded off a runway, crashing nose-first into the ground.
The ill-fated plane at Kozhikode airport.
The Kerala state police chief said at least 18 people had been killed, with at least four passengers stuck the wreckage.
The civil aviation ministry said in a statement there was no fire on board.
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 AXB1344, was a repatriation flight operated by the government to bring Indians home during international travel restrictions due to the spread of the novel coronavirus. Millions of Indians work in the Gulf.
"Pained by the plane accident in Kozhikode" Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted referring to Calicut's new name. "My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones. May the injured recover at the earliest," he said.
One flight each from Dubai, Muscat and Jeddah are expected late at night on schedule. Flights bound for Jeddah and Sharjah left for their destinations during the day.
Ambassador Kapoor said on Twitter, “Distressed to learn of this accident. Our thoughts and prayers are with the passengers and their families.”
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