Air India crash eyewitnesses say better rescue facilities could have saved more lives

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Mangalore, May 23 (ANI): Though investigators on Sunday (May 23) remained busy searching for more clues, as they sifted through the wreckage of the Air India Express plane a day after the crash in Managalore that left 158 people as killed, eyewitnesses of the Air India flight that crashed here said that better rescue services could have saved more lives.

A local tea stall owner, who carried some of the injured to the hospital, recalled the incident.

"The plane was descending and at that time only there was a loud explosion, and with the explosion it fell down. The whole area was engulfed in smoke. Four-five of us hired a rickshaw and rushed to the crash site to look for any survivors. Initially, we didn't find any then we went again and found two-three people. One of them was seriously injured and we rushed him to the hospital," Ishwar, the local tea stall owner, said.

Local residents, however, blamed airport authorities for failing to act promptly after the incident.

"If the airport authorities had helicopters at their disposal then some more lives could have been saved. Even the fire engines took time to reach the crash site, and that also compounded the problem," said Mohammad, a local resident.

The hilltop airport at Mangalore, the site of Saturday's crash, had other geographical challenges. Though adequate for landing the Boeing 737 that crashed, the runway was not long or wide enough to leave any room for error, according to analysts.

Though it is yet to be established if the accident was related to wider problems in India's aviation industry, experts say a lack of training, overworked staff and inadequate infrastructure only aggravate the situation.

A 2006 safety audit by the International Civil Aviation Organisation listed India as worst on "technical personnel qualification and training".

The Air India Express aeroplane crashed outside the airport in Mangalore around 6:30 a.m., and burst into flames after it overshot the table-top runway and plunged into the forest below.

There were eight survivors after the Boeing 737-800, which had come from Dubai with 166 people on board including six crewmembers, appeared to skid off the runway in rain at Mangalore airport.

All the passengers were Indian nationals, an Air India official in Dubai said. Many were likely Indian migrant workers in Dubai. (ANI)

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