At least 16 people including two pilots have reportedly died after an Air India Express flight from Dubai skidded off the runway and broke in two while landing at Karipur International Airport in Kerala’s Kozhikode district.

Dubai-Kozhikode Air India flight (IX-1344), which was part of the Vande Bharat mission that has been bringing back Indians from abroad amid the Coronavirus pandemic, skidded off the runway and plunged deep down 35 ft. into the valley below while landing at the ‘table-top’ airport.

The incident occurred at 7.41 pm on Friday.

Over 100 people are learnt to be injured while at least 15 are critically injured and have been rushed to Kozhikode Medical College and other nearby hospitals.

The aircraft with 190 persons onboard battled heavy rains while landing. Although the aircraft broke in two, it, fortunately did not catch fire at the time of landing, thus averting a major disaster.

Police and fire force personnel were immediately pressed into action to carry out rescue operations. An NDRF team has also been rushed to the spot to join the search and rescue mission.

As per the Civil Aviation Ministry, there were 174 passengers, 10 infants, 2 pilots and 4 cabin crew onboard the aircraft.

According to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the Air India Express flight landed on Runway 10 amid visibility of 2,000 metres in heavy rain, but continued running till the end of runway, fell down the valley and broke into two pieces.

According to flight-tracking website FlightRadar24, the aircraft circled the airport several times and made two attempts to land.

Meanwhile, the DGCA has ordered a detailed inquiry into the incident.

The aviation regular, in a latest update, told news agency ANI that the aircraft was at full speed while landing at the Karipur Airport and overshot the runway.

Meanwhile, an urgent meeting called by the Civil Aviation Ministry is underway at Rajiv Gandhi Bhawan. DGCA Director-General, officials of the ministry, Airport Authority of India and Air India Express are reportedly present at the meeting.

Following the tragedy, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan informed that he has directed all the concerned officials to make necessary arrangements for rescue and medical support

Vijayan has also directed Local Self Government Minister AC Moideen to rush to the accident site.

The Kerala CMO, meanwhile, informed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to CM Pinarayi Vijayan over phone about the plane crash. The CM informed the PM that a team of officials including Kozhikode and Malappuram District Collectors have arrived at the airport and are participating in the rescue operation.

 

PM Modi, in a tweet, also expressed his grief over the loss of lives in the incident and prayed for the recovery of those injured.

President Ram Nath Kovind tweeted that he was “deeply distressed to hear about tragic plane crash of Air India Express flight at Kozhikode”. The President added that he spoke with Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan and inquired about the situation.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted: “Distressed to learn about the tragic accident of Air India Express aircraft in Kozhikode, Kerala.” He added that he has instructed the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) to reach the accident site at the earliest and assist with the rescue operations.

BJP President JP Nadda has also expressed his sadness over the tragic incident.

Terming the incident as “sad and unfortunate”, MoS MEA V Muraleedharan said, “…Perhaps, because of heavy rain in Calicut, it seems the pilot could not land and then in the second attempt he landed but that was hard-landing, after which the aircraft skid off beyond the runway”.

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan also expressed his grief and offered condolences to the families of the deceased.

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said he is deeply anguished and distressed at the air accident in Kozhikode.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar expressed his sadness over the tragic plane crash.

The Air India Express in a statement said, “We regret that there has been an incident regarding our aircraft VT GHK, operating IX 1344 DXB CCJ. Due to crash landing of the flight, it may affect the network but Vande Bharat Mission continues”.

The national carrier also informed that help centres are being set up at Sharjah and Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The Consulate General of India, Dubai released the following helpline numbers – 056 546 3903, 0543090572, 0543090572, 0543090575.

Kozhikode Collector also shared the Helpline Number 0495 – 2376901 for the relatives of passengers onboard the flight.

The chief minister’s office also shared some helpline numbers.