Make your home page

Plane skids off runway in India; 16 killed, dozens hurt

The Air India Express flight that skidded off a runway while landing at the airport in Kozhikode, Kerala state, India, Friday, Aug. 7, 2020. (AP Photo)

NEW DELHI (AP) — A special flight carrying evacuees to India who had
been stranded abroad because of the coronavirus skidded off a runway and
split in two while landing Friday in heavy rain in the southern state
of Kerala, killing at least 16 passengers and injuring 123 more, police

Abdul Karim, a senior Kerala state police officer, said the
dead included one of the pilots of the Air India Express flight. He
said at least 15 of the injured were in critical condition, and that
rescue operations were over.

The two-year-old Boeing 737-800 flew
from Dubai to Kozhikode, also called Calicut, in Kerala, India’s
southernmost state, the airline said.

A similar tragedy to
Friday’s was narrowly avoided at the same airport a year ago, when an
Air India Express flight suffered a tail strike upon landing. None of
the 180 passengers of that flight were injured.

2,850-meter (9,350-foot) runway is on a flat hilltop with deep gorges on
either side ending in a 34-meter (112-foot) drop.

Civil Aviation
Minister Hardeep S. Puri said in a statement that the flight “overshot
the runway in rainy conditions and went down” the slope, breaking into
two pieces upon impact.

An inquiry will be conducted by the ministry’s Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau, he said.

The airport’s runway end safety area was expanded in 2018 to accommodate wide-body aircraft.

runway end safety area meets United Nations international civil
aviation requirements, but the U.N. agency recommends a buffer that is
150 meters (492 feet) longer than what exists at Kozhikode airport,
according to Harro Ranter, chief executive of the Aviation Safety
Network online database.

Dubai-based aviation consultant Mark
Martin said that while it was too early to determine the cause of the
crash, annual monsoon conditions appeared to be a factor.

visibility, wet runway, low cloud base, all leading to very poor braking
action is what looks like led to where we are at the moment with this
crash,” Martin said, calling for the European Aviation Safety Agency and
the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to assist with the Indian
government’s investigation.

The Air India Express flight was part
of the Indian government’s special repatriation mission to bring Indian
citizens back to the country, officials said. All of the passengers were
returning from the Gulf region, authorities said. Regular commercial
flights have been halted in India because of the coronavirus outbreak.

There were 174 adult passengers, 10 infants, two pilots and four cabin crew on board the aircraft, Jain said.

Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that he was “pained by the plane
accident in Kozhikode,” and that he had spoken to Kerala’s top elected

Air India Express is a subsidiary of Air India.

worst air disaster in India was on Nov. 12, 1996, when a Saudi Arabian
Airlines flight collided midair with a Kazakhastan Airlines Flight near
Charki Dadri in Haryana state, killing all 349 on board the two planes.