Updated: August 8, 2020 1:40:30 am
An Air India Express flight with 190 passengers on board en route from Dubai skidded off the runway and split into two while landing at Kerala’s Kozhikode airport in heavy rain on Friday evening, leaving at least 17 persons dead, including the pilot. Kerala Minister KT Jaleel confirmed three deaths earlier, while BJP MP KJ Alphons said all passengers were evacuated.
Preliminary images from the accident site show the aircraft split into two pieces, with debris all over the area, which is reportedly just below the runway. The incident happened when the flight — IX 1344 — was attempting to land at the airport at around 7.40 pm amid heavy rainfall and fell off the runway, to a slip road 34 feet below.
Like Mangaluru, Kozhikode airport has a tabletop runway which was carved out of a hillock. Runways at these airports, which are located on hilltops, create the optical illusion of being at the same level as the plains below when a pilot comes in for landing.
Air India Express flight from Dubai carrying 170 people skidded off the runway in Kozhikode airport while landing; several injured
“The aircraft overshot the runway, fell into a valley and broke up into two pieces. There are some survivors,” DGCA sources said.
Flight Radar 24 data showed the plane looping around the airport before attempting to land. Survivors told local television channels that the aircraft went up and down many times before landing and the disaster occurred after the plane had clearly touched the runway.
Eyewitnesses said there was smoke billowing at the location of the crash and the aircraft seemed to have split into two parts.
“Second tragedy of the day in Kerala : Air India Express skids off the run way at Kozhikode, front portion splits , pilot dies and lots of passengers injured . All passengers evacuated. Very lucky the aircraft didn’t catch fire,” said BJP MP KJ Alphons.
Kerala Health Minister K K Shailaja said the injured have been rushed to hospitals in Kozhikode and Malappuram. She said some of the injured were in a critical state, especially those at the Kozhikode Medical College.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said officials have been directed to make necessary arrangements for rescue and medical support. “Minister A C Moideen will lead the rescue efforts at the Kozhikode International Airport,” he tweeted.
The incident brought back memories of the May 22, 2010 crash of Air India Express flight IX 812 at Mangaluru International Airport. In 2010, following landing errors by the pilots, the aircraft fell off the cliff at the end of the runway and burst into flames killing 158 of the 166 people on board. Following the incident, an inquiry report recommended installing of Engineering Material Arresting System in the overshoot area of tabletop airports.
TV Ibrahim, the IUML MLA from Kondottty, said many passengers were critical. “Two passengers, both women, have died. Some of the other passengers are in a serious shape and need to be shifted to other hospitals. We need more ambulances and volunteers here,” he said.
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