At least 20 persons, including the pilot and co-pilot, were killed and more than 150 injured when a Vande Bharat mission flight from Dubai overshot the runway at Calicut International Airport , broke into two parts and fell into a deep gorge around 8 p.m. on Friday.
The injured passengers were shifted to hospitals in nearby Kondotty and various hospitals in Malappuram and Kozhikode districts. The condition of many passengers at the Kozhikode Government Medical College Hospital and the MIMS Hospital is said to be critical.
Rescue operations were led by the disaster management team, police and fire and rescue personnel from both Kozhikode and Malappuram districts. More than a dozen ambulances from Kozhikode were sent to the airport. An NDRF team also reached the site to assist with the rescue operation.
The Boeing aircraft, carrying 189 passengers and six crew, attempted to land amidst heavy tailwinds and rain on the table-top runway. It failed to hold on the runway due to poor weather conditions, and skidded for more than 75 m.
The accident was similar to the fatal crash of another Air India Express aircraft that overshot the Mangalore International Airport 10 years ago.
Following the accident, the airport was closed and flights diverted. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has ordered a detailed inquiry into the matter.
The Indian consulates in Dubai and Sharjah have activated five helpline numbers to provide information to the family members of the Air India Express flight.
“We pray for the wellbeing of passengers and crew... Our helplines +97156 5463903, +971543090572, +971543090571, +971543090575,” Dr. Aman Puri, Consul General of India, said. The helpline number in Sharjah for updates is +97165970303.
The Civil Aviation Ministry said the flight IX 1344 operated by B737 aircraft from Dubai overshot runway at Kozhikode at 7.41 p.m. “No fire reported at the time of landing,” it noted.
Messages and condolences poured following the accident. Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “Pained by the plane accident in Kozhikode. My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones. .. Spoke to Kerala CM@vijayanpinarayi JI regarding the situation.”
Wayanad MP and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted: I'm shocked to hear about the crash landing of an Air India Express flight, coming from Dubai, at Kozhikode, Kerala... While information is awaited from the authorities on casualties and injuries to the passengers, I pray that all the passengers have survived this terrible ordeal. My thoughts are with the crew, the passengers and their families and friends at this time.”
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan expressed shock over the accident. CMO sources said Chief Minister spoke to the Prime Minister and the latter assured him all help and assistance from the Centre.
Mr. Vijayan informed him that rescue operations were in full swing, the sources said. The Chief Minister has deputed State Minister A.C. Moideen to coordinate rescue operations. An IG of police has been deputed to oversee the rescue operations.
(With inputs from PTI)