At least nine people, including a pilot, were killed after an Air India Express plane with more than 180 passengers on board skidded off the runway on Friday at the Karipur airport in Kozhikode in Kerala.
The plane, part of the Vande Bharat Mission to repatriate Indian nationals from overseas during the coronavirus lockdown, skidded off the tabletop runway and fell into a 50-feet valley breaking into two portions.
Twenty-four ambulances and fire tenders have been rushed to the airport. Two teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) comprising 60 personnel — one from Mallapuram and the other from Wayanad — have also been dispatched with first aid and electrical equipment to cut through the wreckage.
« We must remember that it is a tabletop runway at Kozhikode. There seems to have been injuries among all the passengers and some of them are unconscious, » said NDRF Director General SN Pradhan.
According to officials of the Kerala Police, scores of people have been reported injured and at least 100 shifted to various hospitals nearby. It had been raining heavily at the time of the accident.
« We are still searching for around 100 people, » said officials, adding that a shortage of torches and incessant rainfall were causing the rescue process to halt.
« Air India Express flight IX 1344 operated by B737 aircraft from Dubai to Calicut overshot runway at Kozhikode at 1941 hours tonight. No fire reported at the time of landing, » Air India Express said in a statement. « There are 174 passengers, 10 infants, two pilots and five cabin crew on board the aircraft. »
« Due to crash landing of the flight, it may affect the network but the Vande Bharat Mission continues, » the airline added.
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 regulator said the flight — IX 1344 — continued running to the end of the runway amid heavy rain and « fell down in the valley and broke down in two pieces ».
« 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. »
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said he has instructed the police and fire force to take urgent action. « Have also directed the officials to make necessary arrangements for rescue and medical support, » he added in a tweet.
Have instructed Police and Fire Force to take urgent action in the wake of the plane crash at the Kozhikode International airport (CCJ) in Karipur. Have also directed the officials to make necessary arrangements for rescue and medical support.
The CM also said that minister AC Moideen will lead the rescue efforts at the Kozhikode International Airport.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Vijayan on phone about the crash where he was informed that a team of officials, including the Kozhikode and Malappuram District Collectors and Inspector General IG Ashok Yadav, have arrived at the airport and are participating in the rescue operation, said the Kerala Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) in a statement.
Pained by the plane accident in Kozhikode. My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones. May the injured recover at the earliest. Spoke to Kerala CM @vijayanpinarayi Ji regarding the situation. Authorities are at the spot, providing all assistance to the affected.
The Kozhikode Collector said relatives of passengers onboard the flight can contact the following helpline for inquiries: 0495-2376901.
Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja said all 108 ambulances in Kozhikode and Malappuram are being rushed to the airport. The Government Hospital in Kozhikode is being readied to receive casualties and we have also reached out to Aster MIMS, she added.
Former Minister of State for Tourism Alphons KJ said it was the second tragedy of the day after at least 15 people lost their lives in a landslide in Idukki district.
Second tragedy of the day in Kerala : Air India Express skids off the run way at Kozhikode, front portion splits , pilot dies and lots of passengers injured . All passengers evacuated. Very lucky the aircraft didn’t catch fire @narendramodi @JPNadda
Air India Express, Kozhikode, Kozhikode International Airport, Kerala, Dubai
Actu monde – CA – 9 Killed as Air India Express Flight with over 180 on Board Skids Off Runway at Kozhikode Airport