At least 18 people, including 2 pilots, out of the 190 passengers onboard have died when an Air India Express flight that skidded off the runway of Karipur Airport, in Kozhikode, Kerala, and broke into two pieces on Friday. The flight was on its way to Calicut from Dubai.
The Air India Express Flight IX 1344 was operated by Boeing 737 aircraft. It was a Vande Bharat deportation flight, which was airlifting people from Dubai on the account of Covid-19.
The plane was carrying 190 passengers, including 10 kids, and 6 crew members. Around 112 were taken to hospitals. Many passengers are reported of being stuck in-between the debris of the plane. National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams and other health staff with their safety kits had reached the spot and had taken the injured passengers to Calicut Medical College and Manjeri Medical Hospital.
Firemen and rescue teams had rushed to the place of the incident which took place.
Amid the pandemic, this devastating plane crash has left the whole nation in a state of shock. It has come to the attention of Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) that at the time of landing it was raining heavily.
For the past few weeks, Kerala is witnessing a massive rainfall. Kerala Government has issued the red and orange alerts in many districts. According to DGCA, the visibility was 200 metres at the time of landing. A spark, fire or any terrific blast from the plane has not yet been reported. The measurement of the runway was short.
The pilot Deepak Sathe
The pilot has been identified as Deepak Sathe, a former Indian Air Force (IAF) commander who was commissioned into the service on 11th June 1984. He retired on June 30th, 2003. Before flying for Air India Express on Boeing 737, he flew Airbus 310 for Air India.
He has received the Sword of Honor at the Air Force Academy.
The aerodynamic front section of the plane along with the cockpit has been fully damaged. The first five seats of the plane have suffered large-scale damage. It has been reported by the health workers and medical staff that the survival chances of the injured passengers at the emergency wards are the least.
Two professional investigation teams are sent to the place of the incident to scrutinize the plane and to discover the black box of the plane. They are from Air India (AI), Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB).
What the government says
Post the accident, Prime Minister Narendra Modi connected with Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan to enquire about the current situation. He later tweeted: “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 @vijiyanpinarayi Ji regarding the situation. Authorities are at the spot, providing all assistance to the affected.”
Foreign and External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar has also expressed his grief. He tweeted, “Deeply distressed to hear about the Air India Express tragedy at Kozhikode. Prayers are with the bereaved families and those injured. We are ascertaining further details.”