Govt orders formal enquiry into Air India Express crash at Kozhikode that has killed 17 people
New Delhi, Aug 08: An Air India Express flight from Dubai with 190 people onboard overshot the runway at Kozhikode airport on Friday in rainy conditions and went down 35 feet into a slope before breaking up into two pieces, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said.
He said 16 people lost their lives in the accident. Expressing deep "anguished and distressed" at the accident, he said relief teams from Air India and Airports Authority of India (AAI) are being immediately dispatched from Delhi and Mumbai.
"All efforts are being made to help passengers. A formal enquiry will be conducted by AAIB (Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau)," the minister said on Twitter.
"Deeply anguished & distressed at the air accident in Kozhikode. The Air India Express 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," he said. In a tweet later, he said.
"As per the flight manifest there were 190 people on flight AXB-1344 including 174 adult passengers,10 infants, 4 cabin crew & 2 pilots. Unfortunately, 16 people have lost their lives. I offer my heartfelt condolences to their next of kin & pray for speedy recovery of the injured."
In another tweet at 12.01 am, he said the rescue operations were complete. "Two investigation teams of professionals from @airindiain @AAI_Official & AAIB will leave for Kozhikode at 02.00 hrs & 05.00 hrs. Everyone has now been rescued from the aircraft. Rescue operations are now complete. Injured being treated at various city hospitals," he said.
Before Puri, his ministry said in a statement that there were a total 190 persons onboard the aircraft -- 174 passengers, 10 infants, 2 pilots and four cabin crew. The ministry said the B737 aircraft overshot the runway at 7.41 PM on Friday but no fire was reported at the time of landing.
"As per the initial reports, rescue operations are on and passengers are being taken to hospital for medical care," the ministry noted.
The Air India Express is a wholly owned subsidiary of Air India and it has only B737 aircraft in its fleet. It is learnt that pilot-in-command Deepak Sathe died during the accident. He was a former Wing Commander of the Indian Air Force (IAF). He had served at the IAF's flight testing establishment.
The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said the flight -- IX 1344 -- continued running to the end of the runway amid heavy rain and "fell down in the valley and broke down in two pieces".
Scheduled international passenger flights continue to remain suspended in India since March 23 amid the coronavirus pandemic. However, since May 6, special repatriation flights have been operated by Air India and Air India Express under the Vande Bharat Mission to help stranded people reach their destinations.
Private carriers have also operated a certain number of flights under this mission. A spokesperson for the Air India Express said that help centres are being set up at Sharjah and Dubai for affected people. "We regret that there has been an incident regarding our aircraft VT GHK, operating IX 1344," the spokesperson added.