An Air India Express plane crashed at 19:40 local time (14:10 GMT) on Friday, as it struggled to land for a second time at Calicut International Airport. The first attempt was terminated by the pilots because of the heavy monsoon-season rainfall lashing Kerala.
Aircraft had 190 people on board and crashed at an airport in the southern state of Kerala, killing at least 18 people and Dozens of people were injured, 156of them seriously, officials say. Air India Express reported the two head pilots also died.
The Boeing 737 was En-routing from Dubai and skidded off the runway in rain and smashed in two pieces after crashing at Calicut airport, aviation officials said.
The rescue operation at the site has now been completed and survivors have been taken to hospitals in Calicut and Malappuram, Kerala Chief Minister stated.
India’s Civil Aviation Minister, Hardeep Singh Puri, tweeted the aircraft “overshot the runway in rainy conditions”, then plunged a 35ft (10.6m) slope, before breaking in two.
He said a formal inquiry would be carried out by India’s Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB)
“The incident happened because of heavy rains and poor visibility. This is truly devastating,” Amitabh Kant, who heads the government’s planning commission.
Abdul Karim, a senior Kerala state police officer, said at least 15 of the injured were in a very critical state.
“Fuel had leaked out so it was a miracle that the plane did not catch fire, the toll could have been much higher,” one senior emergency official at the scene said.
The flight was one of the hundreds in recent months to bring home tens of thousands of Indians stranded abroad by the coronavirus pandemic, many of them in Gulf countries.
Civil Aviation Minister, Hardeep Singh Puri today announces an interim relief for victims of AIE flight crash with Rs 10 lakh for each of those who died in the Air India Express crash at the Karipur airport here.