- The Air India flight left from Dubai and overshot the runway in Calicut, Kerala
- The pilot is among fourteen people who were killed in the crash earlier today
- Images on social media show aircraft torn in two with people gathered around
- Police reports say two pilots and 13 other individuals were killed in the disaster
- Another 123 people were injured in the crash with 191 passengers onboard
At least 17 people are dead – including both pilots – after an Air India Express plane flying from Dubai to Calicut with 191 passengers onboard skidded on runway and crashed into a valley.
The two pilots tried to land in heavy rain after already aborting their first attempt and circling over the airport at its destination for 20 minutes.
The plane overshot the runway and skidded into a 30ft-deep valley at Calicut airport, in the Indian State of Kerala, at around 7.45pm (2.45pm GMT) today.
Images circulating on social media show an aircraft ruptured into two parts laying in a valley. Four passengers are thought to be trapped in the wreckage.
According to police reports, both pilots and 12 other individuals were killed in the disaster. Another 123 people were injured in the crash.
I can confirm at least 14 deaths overall. Another 15 passengers have critical injuries. It is still a developing situation,’ senior local policeman Abdul Karim told AFP.
‘We have at least 89 people, many of them with serious injuries, admitted at different Kozhikode hospitals. The ambulances are still coming in,’ said Sujith Das, another senior police official.
‘We have been told that all those who have survived the crash also have some form of injuries.’
Shashi Tharoor, a Congress party lawmaker from the state, said the two pilots were killed.
The NDTV news channel said 30-40 people were hospitalized and that other passengers had been evacuated from the aircraft.
Amitabh Kant, who heads the government’s planning commission, said the runway is on a hilltop with deep gorges on either side, making it difficult to land.
‘The incident happened because of heavy rains and poor visibility. This is truly devastating,’ he told NDTV.
Indian Home Minister Amit Shah said in a tweet that he was ‘distressed to learn about the tragic accident of Air India Express aircraft at Kozhikode.’
It was a repatriation flight carrying Indian citizens back to the country, officials said.
Regular commercial flights have been halted in India because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Air India Express said in a statement that there was ‘no fire reported at the time of landing.’
It said there were 174 passengers, 10 infants, two pilots and five cabin crew on board the aircraft.
Television pictures showed part of the fuselage of the Air India Express jet ripped apart, although there was no sign of any fire, at Kozhikode airport in the southern state of Kerala.
One television channel reported there had been a problem with the jet’s landing gear.
‘I am arranging hospitals for the injured passengers in the city and can confirm two deaths,’ local police official Sujith Das told AFP.
‘There are injuries too but we don’t yet have a number.’
There were ten infants onboard, according to reports. A photograph of a young girl who was allegedly on the plane and was found without a guardian has been circulating on social media.
A post reads: ‘This kid is found from spot where plane accident occurred. Nobody is with her and she is taken to Kondotty Hospital. Please share this.’
It is not known if the tweet is genuine but a second post claims the child has since been reunited with her parents.
‘Dubai-Kozhikode Air India flight (IX-1344) skidded during landing at Karipur Airport at around 7.45 pm (2.45pm GMT) today,’ Kondotty Police told news agency ANI.
According to local media, 15 ambulances attended the crash and have rushed the injured passengers and crew to nearby hospitals.
‘Second tragedy of the day in Kerala: Air India Express skids off the runway at Kozhikode, front portion splits, the pilot dies and lots of passengers injured,’ wrote former Minister of State for Tourism KJ Alphons.
‘All passengers evacuated. Very lucky the aircraft didn’t catch fire.’
Reports said dozens of passengers were taken to hospital and that there were at least 20 critically injured.