At least 15 people were killed and dozens injured when an Air India Express passenger plane overshot the runway and broke into two after landing in the southern city of Calicut in heavy rain on Friday, officials said.
The Boeing-737 flight from Dubai was flying home Indians stranded overseas as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. There were 190 passengers and crew on board, the civil aviation ministry said in a statement. Among them were 10 infants.
Television footage showed rescue workers moving around the wreckage in pouring rain. The aircraft lay split into at least two chunks after the plane's fuselage sheared apart as it fell into a valley nine metres below, authorities said.
Media reports suggested the plane skidded off a runway, crashing nose-first into the ground.
The Kerala state police chief said at least 15 people had been killed, with at least four passengers stuck in the wreckage.
"As per the initial reports, rescue operations are on and passengers are being taken to hospital for medical care," the civil aviation ministry said in the statement.
It said there was no fire on board.
Modi pledges assistance from New Delhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences and said his government was in contact with state officials in Kerala and would offer any assistance required.
Local TV news channels showed passengers, some of them lying motionless on stretchers, brought into a hospital surrounded by health workers wearing masks because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pained by the plane accident in Kozhikode. My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones. May the injured recover at the earliest. Spoke to Kerala CM <a href="https://twitter.com/vijayanpinarayi?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@vijayanpinarayi</a> Ji regarding the situation. Authorities are at the spot, providing all assistance to the affected.—@narendramodi
Air India Express AXB1344 was a repatriation flight operated by the government to bring Indians home during international travel restrictions because of the spread of the novel coronavirus. Millions of Indians work in Persian Gulf countries.
Over the last two decades, aviation deaths around the world have been falling. As recently as 2005, there were 1,015 deaths aboard commercial passenger flights worldwide, according to statistics the Aviation Safety Network said.
The year 2017 saw no major commercial incidents.
Within the last two years, there have now been three deadly crashes involving Boeing aircraft, following incidents near Indonesia and in Ethiopia that saw its Max 737 fleet grounded.
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