Bhubaneswar: 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 “table top” Kozhikode airport leaving at least 19, of the 190 people on board, dead including the pilot, Capt D.V. Sathe.
The plane plunged 35 feet into the valley below, as it landed on its second attempt amid heavy rain on Friday. According to reports, the first attempt was a failure. In the second attempt the aircraft tyres got locked. The mishap occurred at 7.41 p.m.
According to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Air India Express AXB1344, a B737 aircraft, with 190 people onboard, landed on Runway 10 amid visibility of 2,000 metres in heavy rain, but overshot and nosedived into the valley and broke into two pieces.
Authorities in Kerala, however, said that there were 184 people – 128 men, 46 women and 10 children – on board, as five people who had a ticket did not board the aircraft.
Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan, who hails from the state, said the Karipur airport as it is known is a table top airport, and that was one reason why the plane plunged into the valley causing its middle part to break open.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has spoken to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan about it. Table top airports have a disadvantage during rainy seasons. Generally, during heavy rains, aircraft are not allowed to land at table top airports. All these things will come out in the DGCA probe,” said Muraleedharan.
According to information from the spot, the passengers sitting in the front rows of the plane have been seriously injured. The condition of 13 passengers who were brought to another private hospital is reported to be serious.