The death toll in the fatal accident involving an Air India Express flight from Dubai at Calicut International Airport on Friday is feared to have reached 19.
The pilot-in-command Captain Deepak Sathe and his co-pilot Akhilesh Kumar were among those who lost their lives. However, four cabin crew members are safe, the national transporter said on Saturday. “The four cabin crew members are confirmed safe,” Air India Express said in a bulletin.
Kozhikode flight crash: Four cabin crew members safe, says Air India Express
The flight AIX 1344, which was operated as part of the Vande Bharat repatriation mission from Dubai, skid off the runway during the landing process at around 7:40 pm on Friday night. The aircraft broke into two parts and fell into a deep gorge.
The injured passengers were shifted to hospitals in nearby Kondotty and various hospitals in Malappuram and Kozhikode districts. The conditions of many are said to be critical. There were 191 people on board along with four cabin crew and two pilots.
Officials, relief flights arrive
Air India Express in a statement issued in Kochi said that the Chairman and Managing Director, CEO of AIE, Chief of Operations as well as the Chief of Flight Safety of AIE have already reached Kozhikode. The GO teams and the Angels of AI have also reached the city to be with the injured passengers as well as with the family members of the injured and the deceased passengers.
Union Minister V Muraleedharan reached the city from Delhi.
Two special relief flights have been arranged from Delhi and one from Mumbai for rendering humanitarian assistance to all the passengers and the family members.
The Emergency Response Director is coordinating with all the agencies with Calicut, Mumbai as well as Delhi, Dubai for effective emergency response. The AAIB, DGCA and Flight Safety Departments have reached for investigating the accident.
At the time of accident
Sources in the Airport Authority of India (AAI) said that the Air Traffic Control (ATC) at the Calicut International Airport had signalled to its fire tenders on the tarmac, to follow the Air India Express aircraft after it had started to skid on its landing manoeuvre.
Since it was raining heavily at the airport, there were two fire tenders parked at a predetermined position on Friday night. Once the ATC realised that the aircraft was overshooting, it asked the two AAI fire tenders to follow the aircraft hot on its trail. The two vehicles accelerated to their peak speeds and gave chase to the aircraft that was wheeling furiously away. But to their shudder, they saw it cross the no-go area and ram into the sidewall nose-on, and fling itself along the deep gorge, splitting into half.
There was no way the fire tenders or their personnel would have gained access to the stricken aircraft that fell into the gorge. So they took a reverse turn from the edge of the tarmac and headed back all the way to the main exit of and rushed into the main road to take a detour along the perimeter of the airport in order to reach the site of the mishap.
Aviation Minster on site
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri reached Kozhikode on Saturday to take stock of the relief measures after the accident.
In a tweet, the Union minister said he would hold consultations “with senior civil aviation officials & professionals“.
Puri went to the accident site at the airport, before visiting the Kozhikode Medical College, where senior doctors briefed him and Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan about the condition of the injured people admitted for treatment.
“Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) of the ill-fated aircraft have been retrieved. AAIB (Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau) is conducting investigations,” Puri said in another tweet.