USA :Repatriation flight accident kills at least 16 in South India

New Delhi, Aug 7 (EFE) .- At least 16 people died this Friday in the accident of a plane flying from Dubai to Kozhikode, in southern India, when the device went off the runway when landing due to the heavy rain and broke into two parts.

“Unfortunately 16 people have died,” Indian Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Twitter.

The minister specified that 190 people were traveling on the plane, including 174 adult passengers and 10 minors, and announced an investigation into the accident.

According to the Delhi television network NDTV, both pilots died in the accident.

The general director of the Kozhikode Police, A V George, explained to Efe that most of the surviving passengers have been transferred to various local hospitals.

“105 affected have been transferred to hospitals in the city of Kozhikode, the rest of the surviving passengers have been sent to hospitals in the city of Malappuram,” George said.

Of the 105 passengers admitted to hospitals in the city, at least 10 are in serious condition, added the Director General of Police.

The Indian embassy in Dubai announced that rescue operations have ended.

“According to the latest information from state authorities, the search and rescue operation has ended and all the injured have been transferred to various hospitals,” the embassy said in a statement.

MATCH IN TWO

The event took place around 7:40 p.m. (14:10 GMT), when the Boeing 737NG of the low-cost company Air India Express, a subsidiary of the state-owned Air India, left the runway of Kozhikode airport.

“The flight number AXB-1344, which was traveling from Dubai to Kozhikode with 190 people on board, crossed the runway in rainy conditions and fell down a slope about ten meters before breaking into two pieces,” the minister said of Indian Civil Aviation on the social network Twitter.

Kozhikode International Airport is the third busiest in Kerala and is known for its relatively short and elevated runway with steep slopes on both sides.

The director general of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), S.N. Pradhan, published an image on Twitter in which you can see the crashed plane completely split in two, illuminated by powerful spotlights and as a fire truck approaches.

NDTV showed chaotic images of the crash site, as well as the evacuation of the plane’s passengers in the rain and in practically dark.

Local authorities had declared a state of alarm in six districts of Kerala due to heavy rains, which today killed at least 15 people after a landslide in the mountainous Idukki district.

Flight data tracking portal Flightradar24 showed that Air India Express’ Boeing 737NG aircraft attempted to land twice before the crash due to difficult weather conditions.

REPATRIATION FLIGHT

The flight was part of the Vande Bharat repatriation program, tasked with facilitating the return to India of its nationals stranded abroad due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to underscore his “grief over the Kozhikode plane crash”.

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“My thoughts are with those who have lost loved ones. I hope the injured recover as soon as possible,” Modi said.

India, one of the world’s fastest growing air markets, has yet to authorize the international flights it suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The last major plane crash in India took place in 2010, when a Boeing 737 also from Air India Express crashed at Mangalore airport (southwest India), killing 158 people out of the 166 passengers on board.

David Asta Alares

(c) EFE Agency