Air India plane crash death toll rises to 18 | The Daily Star
11:20 AM, August 08, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:25 AM, August 08, 2020

Air India plane crash death toll rises to 18

The death toll in the Air India Express plane crash at Kerala's Kozhikode airport rose to 18 today with one more passenger succumbing to injuries.

Malappuram District Collector K Gopalakrishnan told reporters that one more passenger passed away in hospital as investigators reached the accident spot to begin the probe, reports our New Delhi correspondent.

All those who perished in the accident have been identified barring one, he said.

The officials of Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and Flight Safety department have reached the airport to investigate the accident, according to an Air India statement.

Seventeen people died on the spot and scores were injured when the flight from Dubai with 195 on board overshot the runway while landing in the midst of heavy rains and plunged into a valley 35 feet below last night.

The Boeing 737 aircraft broke into two as a result and the pilot-in-command Captain Deepak Sathe and co-pilot Akhilesh Kumar were among the dead.

The flight IX-1344 was operating under the Vande Bharat Mission of the Indian government to repatriate Indians stranded abroad because of coronavirus lockdowns.

The Air India Express is a wholly owned subsidiary of Air India.

Chairman and managing director of Air India, chief officer of the Air India Express, chief of operations and chief of Flight Safety of AIX have also reached the airport.

Special relief flights have been arranged for rendering humanitarian assistance to all the surviving passengers and their family members, the Air India statement said.

An unnamed DGCA officer was quoted by news agency ANI as saying that the aircraft was in high speed while landing and continued to the edge of the runway and tumbled into the valley.

As rescue personnel, braving blinding rains, scrambled to pull out the injured men and women from the aircraft that broke into two, passengers were too stunned to even comprehend what had happened in a matter of moments, eye witnesses said.

Screams of injured passengers writhing in pain and children, some of them just four years old, separated from their parents in the chaos and looking helplessly at rescue workers marked the initial moments after the accident.

Shoes and baggage, strewn around, bore the tell-tale signs of the tragedy that unfolded.

The scene at the hospitals, where the injured were admitted, had similar images as health workers rushed to provide relief.

A man residing near the airport said he rushed to the spot after hearing a "terrible thud" when the flight fell. "Kids were trapped under the seats and it was such a painful sight," he said.

"When we reached there some passengers were deplaned. Many of them were seriously injured. Legs were broken... My hands and shirt were soaked in the blood," he said.

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