Investigators find black boxes from Indian plane crash

People stand by the debris of the Air India Express flight that skidded off a runway while landing in Kozhikode, Kerala state, India, Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 08 August 2020

Investigators find black boxes from Indian plane crash

  • The Boeing 737 was on a special flight from Dubai to bring back Indians stranded by the coronavirus pandemic
  • Kozhikode is considered a tricky airport as it has a table-top runway with a steep drop at one end

KOZHIKODE, India: Investigators have recovered the “black box” flight recorders from an Air India Express plane that crashed in southern India killing at least 18 people, the aviation minister said Saturday.
The plane carrying 190 people crash-landed during bad weather Friday night and tore in two, injuring scores of passengers.
The Boeing 737, on a special flight from Dubai to bring back Indians stranded by the coronavirus pandemic, overshot the runway at Kozhikode in Kerala state, plunged down an embankment and broke up.
“Fuel had leaked out so it was a miracle that the plane did not catch fire, the toll could have been much higher,” one senior emergency official at the scene said.
Aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri visited the site Saturday and announced that the flight data and cockpit voice recorders had been found, which will help the investigation into the cause of the crash.
The Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau was conducting the probe, he said.
Kozhikode is considered a tricky airport as it has a table-top runway with a steep drop at one end.
Kerala has been hit by severe floods in recent days and heavy rains had been falling for several hours at Kozhikode as the jet landed.
Puri put the latest death toll at 18, while authorities said 22 people were in critical condition in hospital.
The fatalities included the two pilots as well as four children.
Passenger Renjith Panangad, 34, recalled the plane touching the ground and then everything went “blank.”
“After the crash, the emergency door opened and I dragged myself out somehow,” he told AFP from a hospital bed in Kozhikode.
“The front part of the plane was gone — it was completely gone. I don’t know how I made it but I’m grateful. I am still shaken.”
The impact was so brutal that the nose of the Boeing 737 finished about 20 meters (yards) from the back half of the jet.
“All that we could hear were screams all around. People were soaked in blood everywhere, some had fractures, some were unconscious,” said local resident Fazal Puthiyakath who was among the first at the scene.
Indian media quoted air traffic control officials and a flight tracker website as showing the Boeing 737 twice circled and started to land before it crashed at the third attempt.
The jet repeatedly jumped up and down in buffeting winds before the landing, survivors told Indian television.
Local taxi drivers and traders joined airport rescue staff to help free people from the wreckage in the dark and wet.
Several people on board had to be cut out with special equipment. It took three hours to clear all the injured and bodies, officials said.
Taxis ferried many of the injured to hospitals.
“Locals rushed to the spot after hearing the noise,” one rescue worker said. “People came in cars, messages were being sent on WhatsApp... that people were needed to help.
“At first, people took the injured to the hospitals in their cars. Then the emergency services took over.”
One of the infants died in a car before the child could receive treatment.
The flight was one of hundreds in recent months to bring home tens of thousands of Indians stranded abroad by the coronavirus pandemic, many of them in Gulf countries.
Kerala’s health minister K.K. Shailaja asked all those involved in the rescue to go into isolation because of the risk of catching the coronavirus from passengers.
According to flight documents seen by AFP, 15 of those on board had lost their jobs and 12 were returning for a medical emergency. Two were coming back to be married.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his condolences.
“My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones,” Modi said.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said he was saddened by the “loss of innocent lives.”
In June, a Pakistan International Airlines flight plowed into a crowded Karachi neighborhood, killing 97 people aboard and a child on the ground.
The last major plane crash in India was in 2010 when an Air India Express Boeing 737-800 from Dubai to Mangalore overshot the runway killing 158 people.


Palestinians should support candidates ‘based on issues not ethnicity’

Updated 49 min 28 sec ago

Palestinians should support candidates ‘based on issues not ethnicity’

  • Newman came within 2,000 votes of unseating Dan Lipinski
  • The 3rd Congressional District has been held by a Democrat since 1975 and is overwhelmingly Democratic

CHICAGO: Most Arab-Americans in an Illinois congressional district race chose to support an American candidate who supported Arab and Palestinian rights over a Palestinian Arab-American candidate they said could not win the election, the spokesman for the winner said on Wednesday.

Shadin Maali, whose family originates from Beitunia, Palestine near Ramallah, said she agreed to become the spokesperson for Marie Newman over the candidacy of Palestinian American videographer Rashad “Rush” Darwish because Darwish could not win and Newman could.

Maali, who serves as Newman’s campaign chairwoman and spokesperson, said Newman sought Arab-American support, embracing many of the community’s political concerns. Newman, she said, listened to the community and included them in her campaign. That support, she said, helped to unseat Congressman Dan Lipinski, an entrenched eight-term conservative Democrat who had marginalized Arab-American issues and supported many anti-Palestinian congressional bills.

“A representative, if they are going to represent our district, he needs to align with our values. If he wants our support, he needs to align with our values, which are not radical values,” Maali said during an appearance on “The Ray Hanania Show” on Detroit’s WNZK AM 690 and US Arab Radio network, which is sponsored by Arab News newspaper every Wednesday morning.

“We support human rights. To support civil rights. To support justice. The fact that he (Lipinski) didn’t care and denied and declined meeting with us was a slap in the face.”

Newman came within 2,000 votes of unseating Lipinski, losing in March 2018. But with Arab-American support, she easily defeated Lipinski in the March 2020 Democratic Primary by more than 2,816 votes.

Newman won with 52,384 votes while Lipinski lost with 49,568. The Palestinian-Arab candidate who tried to appeal to Arab-American candidates, Rush Darwish, spent nearly $800,000 on the election but only won 6,351 votes, or 5.7 percent of the 110,852 votes cast.

Maali said that she unsuccessfully appealed to Darwish to exit the race and support Newman, who backs many of the issues that Arabs and Palestinian Americans support.

Newman “had the strongest path to victory,” Maali said, while Rush Darwish, a first-time candidate with little experience, did not. She called it a “tough choice,” but added that in the end the best interests of the district’s constituents, including Arab Americans, was the priority.

“So, when she asked me to be her campaign chairwoman, it was a hard decision for me to make because we did have an Arab-American, a Palestinian-American running,” she said.

“That was the reason why I supported her because she represented us on our issues. She gave us a platform . . . and she could win.”

The 3rd Congressional District has been held by a Democrat since 1975 and is overwhelmingly Democratic. It was ranked as having the eighth largest Arab-American population of 50 American congressional districts by The New York Times. It also has the largest concentration of Palestinian-American voters, Maali said.

Maali said that to be successful in winning support for Palestine, Arab-American voters also needed to support the mainstream American population on issues that were important to them.

“Palestine is not the only issue,” she said.

“We care about health care. We care about education. We care about incentives for small businesses. We care about the refugees and immigration reform. We care about all of those issues. We are here as Americans. We care about making sure human rights are not violated anywhere in the world.”

Maali said that Newman supported the right of Arab-Americans to express their opposition to the policies of foreign countries such as Israel, noting that boycotts were an expression of free speech.

Acknowledging that Americans boycotting the racism of the government of South Africa helped to force the end of apartheid there, Maali said Americans also supported boycotting Israel’s government policies, which discriminated against civilians.

“We wanted to make sure we would always be able to practice our right to boycott because it is a fundamental civil right,” Maali said.

Lipinski, she said, supported the passage of legislation that punished Americans who supported boycotting Israeli government policies in the Occupied West Bank.

During the second segment of the radio show, conservative political consultant, Jeff Davis, of Victory Media, said that the public should not rely on news media polling that showed former Vice President Joe Biden as having a significant edge over President Donald Trump.

Davis said that voters should concentrate on several key battleground states including Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina and Michigan.

An analysis of the Arab-American population shows that four battleground states — Michigan, Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania — have significant Arab-American voters who could help to drive the election results.

But Davis said that with the new system of mail-in ballots, some state elections might not be fully tabulated for as long as 10 days after the Nov. 3, 2020 election.

“The question really is, how soon will we know? The difference is vote-by-mail applications because of COVID-19 are through the roof. What that means is you are going to have a certain amount of percentage that is going to be outstanding on election day,” Davis said.

 “We might not know for nine days (after the election),” Davis said.

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“The Ray Hanania Show” is broadcast every Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. EST in Detroit and simulcast on the Arab News newspaper Facebook page. For more information, visit Arab News online at www.arabnews.com/us2020election.