New Delhi, Aug 7 (efe-epa).- At least 11 people were killed on Friday evening when a plane, carrying 191 passengers and crew from Dubai to the southern Indian city of Kozhikode, overshot the runway and split into two after landing in heavy rain.
“Police have reported 11 deaths,” Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said.
Puri wrote on Twitter that the flight on its way from Dubai to Kozhikode “overshot the runway in rainy conditions and went down 35 feet into a slope before breaking up into two pieces.”
However, Kozhikode Police Commissioner AV George told EFE that at least people were killed and 90 were transferred to hospitals for treatment.
Sujit Das, the joint commissioner of the city, said the dead included one of the pilots and almost “all the passengers had received some kind of injuries.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that he was “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 plane, a Boeing 737NG aircraft operated by low-cost carrier Air India Express, a subsidiary of the state-run airline Air India, was a special service flight to evacuate stranded Indians from Dubai amid Covid-19 travel restrictions.
The aviation minister said that relief teams from Air India and Airport Authority of India were immediately dispatched from Delhi and Mumbai.
“All efforts (are) being made to help passengers. A formal inquiry will be conducted by AAIB (Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau),” Puri said.
SN Pradhan, the director-general of India’s National Disaster Response Force, said that emergency teams were deployed for rescue and relief operations at the airport.
One of the images shared by Pradhan on Twitter showed the plane’s fuselage split into two even as a fire engine approached it.
Footage aired by local broadcasters showed passengers evacuated and the injured taken for medical care.
The plane skidded off the runway as it landed around 7.40 pm in heavy monsoon rains in Kozhikode, also known as Calicut, in the southern state of Kerala.
The Calicut International Airport, the third-busiest in Kerala, is a table-top airport, with the relatively short main runway on top of a plateau with steep declines on both sides.
The last major passenger plane crash in the country took place in Mangalore, another table-top airport, in 2010 when an Air India Express plane overshot the runway, killing 158 of the 166 people on board.
Major airliner accidents are relatively rare in India, one of the fastest-growing aviation markets in the world, although the monsoon – the main rain season of the country that lasts from July to September – can create difficult conditions for landing and take off.
The region had experienced heavy rains over the past few days, due to which 15 people were killed on Friday in a landslide in the hilly Idukki district of Kerala. EFE-EPA