New Delhi, Aug 8 (efe-epa).- The death toll from an aircraft accident in India has risen to 18, Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Saturday while authorities recovered digital flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder from the wreckage of the passenger aircraft.
“My heart goes out to the families and friends of the 18 people who lost their lives in the air accident (…) last evening,” Puri said as reached Kozhikode to take stock of the accident in the southern Indian city.
The minister in a series of tweets said investigators have found the digital flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder of the aircraft that will help figure out what caused the accident on Friday evening.
Puri told the state-run broadcaster Doordarshan that rescuers were able to rescue most of the passengers from the plane because the aircraft did not catch fire as it descended the slope at the end of the runway.
The Boeing 737NG, operated by Air India Express, a low-cost subsidiary of state-run Air India, with 190 people aboard overshot the runway, went down 35 feet into a slope before breaking up into two pieces as it attempted to land in Kozhikode amid heavy rain.
The plane was carrying Indian nationals who found themselves stranded in Dubai by Covid-19 travel restrictions.
The dead included the plane’s pilot and co-pilot. Ten infants and six crew members were on the plane when it crash-landed in Kozhikode, also known as Calicut.
Calicut International is a table-top airport, with a relatively short main runway sitting on 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 air accidents are relatively rare in India, one of the fastest-growing aviation markets in the world, though the monsoon can create difficult conditions for landing and takeoff.
The region has been experiencing heavy downpour and 22 people have lost their lives due to rains and a landslide in the hilly Idukki district of Kerala. EFE-EPA