Death toll from Air India Express aircraft crash rises to 18

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Officials inspect the wreckage of an Air India Express aircraft that crashed on landing at Calicut International Airport in Kerala on August 8, 2020. (AFP)
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First responders inspect the wreckage of an Air India Express jet, which was carrying more than 190 passengers and crew from Dubai, after it crashed by overshooting the runway at Calicut International Airport in Karipur, Kerala, on August 7, 2020. (AFP)
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Rows of ambulances are seen outside the Calicut International Airport where a passenger plane crashed after it overshot the runway in Karipur, in the southern state of Kerala, India, August 7, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 08 August 2020

Death toll from Air India Express aircraft crash rises to 18

  • The Air India Express plane from Dubai had 191 passengers and crew on board when it overshot the runway
  • There were 10 infants on board

KOZHIKODE, India: The death toll from an Indian passenger aircraft accident has risen to 18, while 16 people have been seriously injured, a senior government official said on Saturday.

The Air India Express plane, which was repatriating Indians stranded in Dubai due to the coronavirus pandemic, overshot the runway of the Calicut International Airport in heavy rain near the southern city of Kozhikode on Friday. It was India’s worst passenger aircraft accident since 2010.

The flight was carrying 190 passengers and crew.

The plane’s pilot and the co-pilot were killed in the accident, K Gopalakrishnan, chief of the Malappuram district in the southern state of Kerala, told Reuters.

All survivors were admitted to various hospitals and were also tested for COVID-19, Gopalakrishnan said, adding that autopsies of the dead would also be carried out according to the COVID-19 protocol.

Some 149 patients remain in hospital after some were discharged on Saturday, Gopalakrishnan said.

Authorities have also asked local people who rushed out to help the passengers trapped in the plane to go into quarantine.

The Boeing-737 plane skidded off the table-top runway of Calicut, crashing nose-first into the ground. Such runways are located at an altitude and have steep drops at one or both ends.

In 2010, another Air India Express flight from Dubai overshot the table-top runway at Mangalore, a city in the south, and slid down a hill, killing 158 people.

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri visited the site of the accident on Saturday.

“It (the plane) overshot the runway while trying to land amidst what were clearly inclement weather conditions prevailing at that time,” Puri told a news conference, adding that it would be premature to speculate on the precise cause of the accident.

Puri said two separate teams had already reached Kozhikode from New Delhi to carry out an investigation into the crash.

He said authorities managed to rescue most of the passengers because the plane did not catch fire while descending the slope at the end of the runway.

The flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder have been recovered from the site, a top official at the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said.

Giving a breakdown of all those on board the plane, Puri earlier said they included 10 children, 174 adult passengers, four cabin crew and two pilots.

“The pilot tried a lot to land us (safely) in the rainy weather. It was cloudy and around 7-7.30 p.m. (GMT 1330-1400) in the evening, we crash-landed. It was difficult to land, he tried a lot,” said one passenger, who gave his name as Ashraf.

India, which halted all flights in late March to try to contain the coronavirus, has restarted limited international air travel.

Air India Express AXB1344 was a government-operated repatriation flight for Indians previously unable to return home because of travel restrictions.

UN General Assembly: World leaders take part in first ever 'virtual' debate

Updated 15 min 30 sec ago

UN General Assembly: World leaders take part in first ever 'virtual' debate

UNITED NATIONS: The UN’s first virtual meeting of world leaders is getting under way with pre-recorded speeches from some of the planet's biggest powers,

Among those expected to speak on Tuesday are Donald Trump, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Vladimir Putin, China's Xi Jinping and French president Emmanuel Macron.

From the Middle East, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani will take the virtual floor as his country comes under huge pressure from the US over the crumblimng nuclear deal.

Jordan's King Abdullah II and the Emir of Qatar will also deliver their addresses.

After Monday's introductory session marking the UN's 75th anniversary, the "general debate" is the meeting's central event — speeches from each of its 193 member nations.

They traditionally serve as a platform for countries to tout accomplishments, seek support, stoke rivalries and express views on global priorities.

*With AP