An Air India Express passenger flight en route from Dubai with 191 people on board overshot the runway during landing at Kerala’s Kozhikode airport. Police officials confirmed 17 deaths with another 173 injured.
Officials also confirmed that both the pilot and co-pilot perished in the disastrous crash landing.
Media reports said the plane overshot the runway, fell into a valley and broke up. Images and video circulating on social media showed the aircraft broken into two pieces with rescue operations underway.
India’s NDTV news said all those surviving on board had been evacuated from the aircraft.
The disaster happened at around 7PM local time amid heavy rainfall in the area.
India’s Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri told the DD News broadcaster that the captain “could not land the first time” due to weather conditions and had turned around and tried to approach the airport from another direction.
The Blood Donors India volunteer group has issued an urgent plea for people to come forward to donate blood at two hospitals in the city of Kozhikode.
The flight was part of the ‘Vande Bharat’ government-run program to bring back Indians stranded in foreign countries amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
India’s Interior Minister Amit Shah wrote on social media that he was “distressed” by the incident at Kozhikode, and has directed the National Disaster Response Force to assist the rescue efforts.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also expressed his condolences to the victims and their families, wishing a speedy recovery for those injured.
Air India Express created helpline for relatives of passengers and crew and put out a statement confirming that 10 infants were among those carried on the aircraft.
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