At least 18 dead as Air India Express plane crash-lands in Kerala

10 Aug 2020


At least 18 people, including the pilot and co-pilot, died and several others were injured when the Air India Express Flight IX-1344 from Dubai carrying 190 aboard crash-landed at the Karipur Airport in Kozhikode on Friday.

Those on board the plane included 10 children, 174 adult passengers and four cabin crew besides the two pilots.
Captain of the ill-fated flight, 58-year-old Wing Commander (Retd) Dipak Sathe, co-pilot Akhilesh Kumar and 16 others perished. About 125 injured were admitted to hospitals. It was a miraculous escape for the survivors as the plane skidded into a valley from the table-top airport's runway and split into two.
Wing Commander Sathe, a decorated former India Air Force pilot, had also served with No17 Squadron, Golden Arrows, which was recently recommissioned with the Rafale fighter jet. His squadron had also participated in the Kargil War.
Co-pilot Akhilesh Kumar was part of an Air India Express plane crew of the first repatriation flight under the Vande Bharat Mission to land in Kozhikode, bringing back several stranded Indians in Dubai.
Officials said the Boeing-737 aircraft crashed when it overshot the table-top runway, crashing into the steep ground.
In 2010, another Air India Express flight from Dubai overshot the table-top runway at Mangalore, and slid down a hill, killing 158 people.
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri visited the site of the accident on Saturday.
“The plane overshot the runway while trying to land amidst what were clearly inclement weather conditions prevailing at that time,” Puri told the media, adding that it would be premature to speculate on the precise cause of the accident
Puri said two separate teams had already reached Kozhikode from New Delhi to carry out an investigation into the crash.
He said authorities managed to rescue most of the passengers because the plane did not catch fire while descending the slope at the end of the runway.
The flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder have been recovered from the site, a top official at the Directorate General of Civil Aviation told Reuters.
Reports citing passengers said the pilot tried his best to land safely in the rainy weather. It was cloudy and around 7-7.30 pm in the evening, but the plave crash-landed.
Union minister V Muraleedharan who visited Kozhikode on Saturday also said the death toll in the accident would have been higher had the pilot not switched off the engine in time. In doing so, he said, the pilot prevented the fuel tank of the aircraft from going up in flames, according to report in The Times of India.
Flight data, cockpit voice recorders have been recovered from the Air India plane crash site.

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