KOZHIKODE/NEW DELHI, Aug 7: In one of the worst air disasters witnessed in Kerala, an Air India Express flight, returning from Dubai under the Vande Bharat mission, skidded off the runaway at the airport in Kozhikode and fell into a valley, breaking into two portions.
At least 17 persons, of the 191 onboard, were killed, including the pilot, Capt DV Sathe. The plane plunged 35 feet into the valley below, as it landed on its second attempt amid heavy rain on Friday. The mishap occurred at 7.41 pm.
According to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Air India Express AXB1344, a B737 aircraft, with 191 persons onboard, landed on Runway 10 amid visibility of 2,000 metres in heavy rain, but overshot and nosedived into the valley.
As per the Ministry of Civil Aviation, rescue operations are continuing and passengers are being taken to hospitals for medical care.
Authorities in Kerala, however, said that there were 174 passengers, 10 infants, two pilots and five cabin crew onboard the aircraft.
President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with leaders from across the political spectrum expressed anguish on Friday over the Air India Express aircraft accident in Kozhikode and offered condolences to the families of those killed in the tragedy.
President Kovind said he was deeply distressed to hear about the tragic plane accident and his thoughts and prayers were with the affected passengers, crew members and their families.
Kovind said he spoke to Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan and enquired about the situation there.
Vice President Venkaiah Naidu said he was deeply anguished by the loss of lives in the tragic air mishap.
�My heartfelt condolences to the families who lost their dear ones in the crash & prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured,� he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also expressed anguish at the Air India Express aircraft accident and said authorities are at the spot, providing all assistance to the affected.
He also spoke with Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in this regard.
�Pained by the plane accident in Kozhikode. My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones. May the injured recover at the earliest,� the prime minister tweeted. Authorities are at the spot, providing all assistance to the affected, Modi said.
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said all efforts were being made to help the passengers and that a formal enquiry will be conducted by the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB).
The minister said he was deeply "anguished and distressed" at the accident and relief teams from Air India and Airports Authority of India (AAI) were being immediately dispatched from Delhi and Mumbai. � Agencies