AI plane overshot runway in rainy conditions, slipped into slope: Puri

File Photo of Hardeep Singh Puri during a press conference
An Air India Express flight from Dubai with 191 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 the Kerala police has reported 11 deaths in the accident.

The minister said he is deeply "anguished and distressed" at the accident and 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.

Before him, the 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.



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