At least 18 people, including two pilots, were killed and more than 100 were injured as an Air India Express plane from Dubai veered off the runway at the Karipur Airport in Kerala’s Kozhikode city amid heavy rain on Friday.
Those on board the plane have been evacuated and around 112 wounded have been hospitalised. There were a total of 174 passengers and 10 infants, two pilots and four cabin crew members, the airline said in a statement. The flight was a part of the Vande Bharat fleet that brings back Indians stranded abroad amid the coronavirus crisis.
Kerala Police Chief Lokanath Behera told NDTV that a few passengers were still trapped inside the aircraft. The passengers have been taken to the Kozhikode Medical College and other hospitals nearby, reported Times Now.
Visuals of the accident shared on social media showed the plane smashed into pieces with debris scattered on the runway.
The National Disaster Response Force and medical teams rushed to the airport. “We must remember that it is a tabletop runway at Kozhikode,” NDRF Director-General SN Pradhan told ANI. “There seems to have been injuries among all the passengers and some of them are unconscious.”
The captain of the flight made two attempts to land the plane in heavy rain, but it overshot the runway around 7.45 pm, according to NDTV.
These are the helpline numbers that the Ministry of External Affairs has released: 1800 118 797; +91 11 23012113; +91 11 23014104; +91 11 23017905.
Here are some other helplines.
‘Pained by the plane accident in Kozhikode’: Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan after the accident. “Pained by the plane accident in Kozhikode,” Modi tweeted. “My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones. May the injured recover at the earliest. Authorities are at the spot, providing all assistance to the affected.”
Vijayan said that rescue teams were sent to the airport. “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,” he tweeted. “Have also directed the officials to make necessary arrangements for rescue and medical support.”
Several other political leaders took to Twitter to express their grief. Union Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted: “Distressed to learn about the tragic accident of Air India Express aircraft in Kozhikode, Kerala. Have instructed NDRF to reach the site at the earliest and assist with the rescue operations.”
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh expressed condolences for the loss of lives in the accident. “Devastating news from Kozhikode, Kerala. I am deeply anguished by the loss of lives due to an accident carrying several passengers on Air India flight,” he tweeted. “In this hour of grief, my thoughts are with the bereaved families. I pray for the speedy recovery of the injured.”
“Deeply anguished and distressed at the air accident in Kozhikode,” Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted. “Air India Express flight number AXB-1344 from Dubai to Kozhikode, overshot the runway in rainy conditions and went down 35 feet into a slope before breaking up into two pieces.” The civil aviation ministry, meanwhile, called an urgent meeting to discuss the situation.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said he was shocked to learn the “devastating news”. “Shocked at the devastating news of the plane mishap in Kozhikode,” he wrote on Twitter. “Deepest condolences to the friends and family of those who died in this accident. Prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured.”
Bharatiya Janata Party Alphons KJ, who was among the first to break the news of the pilot’s death, tweeted: “Second tragedy of the day in Kerala: Air India Express skids off the runway at Kozhikode, front portion splits , pilot dies and lots of passengers injured. All passengers evacuated. Very lucky the aircraft didn’t catch fire.”