Investigators today began their probe into the crash of the Air India Express plane with 195 people on board to Kozhikode in Kerala as the plane's Digital Flight Data Recorder and the Cockpit Voice Recorder were recovered from the aircraft, Civil Aviation officials said.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation said the plane, on landing amidst heavy rains, continued running to the end of the runway and "fell down in the valley and broke down in two pieces".
The flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder might yield clues to the incident as they record data-points, including information about a plane's performance, speed, braking and system status as also conversations between the pilots.
The Boeing 737 crashed at Kerala's Kozhikode airport on Friday night at around 7:41 pm, leaving at least 18 people, including both the pilots, dead and 127 others injured.
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri reached Kozhikode this afternoon to take stock of the status and implement relief measures.
One of the 18 passengers who died in the flight crash has tested Covid-19 positive, according to Kerala state minister K T Jaleel.
The airport in Kozhikode, built on top of a hill with limited space at the end of the runway, is one of Kerala's most prominent international terminals and handles many flights from abroad.
The Air India Express flight was operated under the Indian government's Vande Bharat Mission to bring back Indians who were stranded abroad due to Covid-19 lockdown.
Many of the passengers were returning home after losing their jobs due to the pandemic.
The landing on the "tabletop" runway in Kozhikode airport was considered challenging because it is located atop a hill with one or both ends adjacent to a steep slope with a deep gorge.
However, India's Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan sought to dismiss concerns over Kozhikode airport runway's safety, pointing out that "hundreds of flights have landed on the same runway" in the last three months under the Vande Bharat Mission.
Hardeep Singh Puri announced Rs one million interim relief for each of the deceased, Rs two lakh for the seriously injured and Rs 50,000 for those who suffered minor injuries in the plane crash.
Separately, Kerala government announced Rs one million compensation to families of those who lost their lives in the Air India Express flight crash.