In an unfortunate incident, at least 16 people, including former Indian Air Force (IAF) test pilot Captain DV Sathe and his co-pilot, died in a plane crash in Kerala. While the rescue operations are underway at the site, several injured have been rushed to nearby medical centre.
The Air India Express aircraft carrying 191 passengers and crew, as part of the Vande Bharat repatriation operations, skidded off the tabletop runway and fell into over 30-feet valley, breaking into two pieces while landing at Kerala’s Kozhikode airport. The incident occurred late Friday evening.
Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of Civil Aviation of India, tweeted "flight number AXB-1344 on its way from Dubai to Kozhikode with 191 persons on board, overshot the runway in rainy conditions & went down 35 ft. into a slope before breaking up into two pieces."
Deeply anguished & distressed at the air accident in Kozhikode.
The @FlyWithIX flight number AXB-1344 on its way from Dubai to Kozhikode with 191 persons on board, overshot the runway in rainy conditions & went down 35 ft. into a slope before breaking up into two pieces.
— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) August 7, 2020
The aircraft has been identified as AXB1344, B737 Dubai (DXB) to Calicut (CCJ), an Air India Express flight from Dubai to Kozhikode. The Express flight was carrying 174 passengers, 10 infants, two pilots and four cabin crew on board.
Air India Express Statement regarding incident involving Air India Express at Kozhikode pic.twitter.com/UPOE0y5TEr
— Air India Express (@FlyWithIX) August 7, 2020
According to the input, the aircraft apparently made a second attempt to land when it "overshot the runway". The aircraft’s actual speed was higher than the landing speed.
Kerela Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan tweeted that he spoke to the Prime Minister over phone. CM informed the PM about the arrangements made for rescue and medical support. The Prime Minister has promised the assistance of the Union Government.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan spoke to @PMOIndia Shri. @narendramodi ji over phone. CM informed the hon'ble Prime Minister about the arrangements made for rescue and medical support. The Prime Minister has promised the assistance of the Union Government.
— CMO Kerala (@CMOKerala) August 7, 2020
President Ram Nath Kovind also spoke to Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan over the incident. In a tweet he wrote that he was deeply distressed to hear about the tragic plane crash and extended his thoughts and prayers with affected passengers, crew members and their families.
Deeply distressed to hear about the tragic plane crash of Air India Express flight at Kozhikode, Kerala. Spoke to @KeralaGovernor Shri Arif Mohammed Khan and inquired about the situation. Thoughts and prayers with affected passengers, crew members and their families.
— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn) August 7, 2020
Prime Minister Narendra Modi also took to Twitter to extend his condolences and support.
Pained by the plane accident in Kozhikode. My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones. May the injured recover at the earliest. Spoke to Kerala CM @vijayanpinarayi Ji regarding the situation. Authorities are at the spot, providing all assistance to the affected.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) August 7, 2020
Civil Aviation Ministry called for an urgent meeting at Rajiv Gandhi Bhawan in New Delhi following the plane crash. DGCA Girector-General as well as officials of the Ministry, Airport Authority of India and Air India Express are present in the aforementioned meeting.
As per latest update, all passengers have been evacuated from the aircraft. Further details awaited.