KOZHIKODE, India (Reuters) – The death toll in an Indian passenger plane accident has risen to 18 while seriously injuring 16 people, a senior government official said Saturday.
A security officer inspects the spot where a passenger plane crashed when it crossed the runway at Calicut International Airport in Karipur, southern Kerala state, India on Aug. 8, 2020. REUTERS / Stringer
The Air India Express plane, which was returning Indians stranded in Dubai due to the coronavirus pandemic, crossed the runway at Calicut International Airport near the southern city of Kozhikode in heavy rain on Friday. This was India̵
The flight carried 190 passengers and crew.
The plane’s pilot and copilot were killed in the accident, K Gopalakrishnan, chief of the Malappuram district in the southern state of Kerala, told Reuters.
“All passengers have been admitted to different hospitals and they are also being tested for COVID-19,” said Gopalakrishnan. An autopsy of the bodies would be performed in accordance with the COVID-19 protocol.
With the Boeing-737, the plane slid off the Calicut runway and fell nose-first into the ground. Such runways are at one level and have steep inclines at one or both ends.
In 2010, another Air India Express flight from Dubai crossed the runway in Mangalore, a city in the south, and slid down a hill, killing 158 people
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri told national broadcaster DD News last night that only an investigation would uncover the cause of the crash.
According to Puri, authorities managed to save most of the passengers as the plane did not catch fire as it descended on the runway slope.
India, which stopped all air travel in late March to contain the novel coronavirus, has resumed limited international air travel.
Air India Express AXB1344 was a government operated return flight for Indians previously unable to return home due to travel restrictions.
Letter from Mayank Bhardwaj; Editing by Himani Sarkar