INDIA—An Air India flight carrying 190 passengers from Dubai skidded off the runway and crashed at 7:41 p.m. on Friday, August 7, in Kozhikode Airport of India’s southern state Kerala.
174 adult passengers, 10 infants, 2 pilots, and 4 cabin crew were among the 190 people on board flight IX-1344. According to the local police, 17 people are dead, including both pilots, and at least 112 were injured and taken to the nearest hospitals.
The flight was part of the repatriation efforts to bring back stranded individuals in other countries during the coronavirus pandemic. The Kozhikode airport runway is on a flat hilltop with deep gorges on either side, so the plane skidded off the runway and crashed below.
India’s Civil Aviation Minister, Hardeep Singh Puri said in a tweet, that the airplane overshot the runway in rainy conditions and went down 35 feet into a slope before breaking up into two pieces.
“The weather conditions were not good. The pilot had tried to land earlier and then did a turnaround,” Puri said, speaking to CNN, “so the aircraft would not be brought to a halt.” He added that the plane, fortunately, did not catch fire.
Speaking to the Associated Press, Dubai-based aviation consultant Mark Martin said that it was too early to determine the cause of the crash and that annual monsoon conditions appeared to play a role. “Low 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.
The flight-tracking website FlightRadar24 said in a tweet that it is analyzing additional data from the crash.
Condolences poured in from all over the world. Hours after the crash, people lined up at a blood bank in Kozhikode or Calicut, to donate blood.
Air India Express has established a passenger information center, and a toll-free number only for family and friends of those on board, according to a statement. The toll-free number is 1800-2222-71. Those calling from outside should use the international country code 91. Media are requested to not call the toll-free number.