Air India Express Plane From Dubai Breaks Into Two After Skidding Off Kozhikode Runway In Kerala

 - Sakshi Post

NEW DELHI: In the second major tragedy to strike rain-battered Kerala on Friday, an Air India Express plane carrying 191 persons on board and coming from Dubai skidded off the runway while making a tough landing amid heavy downpour at Kozhikode of Kerala. The mishap occurred at 7:40 pm. According to local MLA Muneer, 16 persons including both pilot and co-pilot, were killed while 45 more sustained grievous injuries in the incident.

The flight was operated as part of the Vande Bharat Mission, meant for ferrying Indians stranded abroad due to COVID-19 restrictions. According to sources and eyewitnesses, the plane skidded off, overshot the tabletop runway and went down the slope before breaking into two pieces under the impact of the hard landing.

However, close to 170 people are said to be safe having been evacuated from the scene of accident immediately. A bigger disaster in terms of casualties was averted as the plane's engines or the wings containing highly inflammable fuel did not catch fire. Massive rescue operations were carried out to evacuate the passengers to safety and shift the critically injured to nearby hospitals using more than 20 ambulances.

Most of the rescue efforts have been completed and hearteningly, many local residents swarmed to the accident site and voluntarily joined the rescue operations, making the Herculean task relatively easy for the authorities.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Kerala Chief Minister Pinnarayi Vijayan and enquired about the mishap. The chief minister reportedly briefed the PM on the rescue and relief measures being taken up.

Pictures taken immediately from the site after the accident makes it clear that the aircraft was broken in to two pieces even as debris was reported to be strewn all over the runway.

Most of the passengers are reported to be those working in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi of United Arab Emirates besides a few Gulf countries as expatriate employees and labourers, who were believed to be returning home after being stranded due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Air India Express, part of India's official carrier, Air India, operates Boeing 737 aircraft as part of its fleet. The Kozhikode airport features a 'tabletop runway' which is considered a major challenge to deal with for pilots to land the flights, especially in adverse weather conditions.

Sadly, this is the second major tragedy to strike Kerala which is being battered by unprecedented heavy rainfall throughout Friday. Earlier in the day, landslides triggered by copious rains left at least 15 residents killed in Rajamala of Kerala's Idukki district.

More than 50 others were still feared to have been trapped under the mounds of mud and soil in the hilly Rajamala region.

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