Plane crashes in India, 159 dead

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An Air India Express passenger plane crashed in flames after overshooting the runway in the southern city of Mangalore on Saturday, killing 159 people on board.

By Agencies

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Published: Sat 22 May 2010, 8:39 AM

Last updated: Mon 9 Jan 2023, 2:32 PM

There were only eight survivors after the Boeing 737-800, with 166 people on board including crew, appeared to have skidded off the runway in rain at Mangalore airport in Karnataka state, Air India director Anup Srivastava said.

All the passengers were Indian nationals, an Air India official in Dubai said.

Air India Express is the budget arm of the loss making state-run carrier Air India, which has been fending off growing competition from private airlines. First indications are that the crash was an accident, officials say.

Television channels said the plane crashed around 6:30 a.m. (0100 GMT). TV images showed it struck a forested area. Flames were seen blazing from the wreckage as rescue workers fought to bring the fire under control.

“The plane had broken into two. I jumped out of the plane after it crashed. I saw two other people also come out,” Abdullah, a survivor from the plane, told local channel TV9 from hospital.

“There was a tyre-burst kind of noise. I tried to get out of the front but saw that there was a big fire. So I went back again and jumped out from there.”

It was India’s first major crash in more than a decade, which has seen a boom in private carriers amid growing demand from India’s middle class.

A series of near misses at major airports, including Delhi and Mumbai, have sparked debate about how India’s creaking infrastructure was failing to keep pace with an economic boom.

Black box recovered

The black box has been recovered from an Air India Express passenger plane from Dubai that crashed on landing in southern India, the United Arab Emirates’ state media said.

“The black box of the aircraft has been recovered and the mandatory court of inquiry ordered by the Director General of Civil Aviation,” WAM reported.

Charred bodies

One television channel showed a fireman carrying what seemed to be the remains of a child. Charred bodies lay in the forested terrain.

“The flight had already landed. There was slight rain. The flight skidded off,” witness Mohiuddin Bava told CNN-IBN channel. “After that it caught fire. Villagers, everyone there, came to rescue.”

The last major crash in India was in July, 2000, when an Alliance Air Boeing 737-200 crashed into a residential area during a second landing attempt in the eastern city of Patna, killing at least 50 people.

With growing competition from private carriers, the Indian government agreed to infuse $1.1 billion into loss-making Air India if the ailing state-run carrier found the same amount in cost cuts and extra revenue.

The airline lost $875 million in the fiscal year ended March 2009.

Hundreds of Air India pilots went on strike in September 2009 to protest management plans to cut pay incentives. The strike was called off when aviation minister Praful Patel said the grievances would be dealt with.

Mangalore airport new terminal- Image courtesy: Wikipedia

Mysore airport has a table-top runway which means that it is located on a hill top, which demands accuracy and no room for error while landing.

According to sources, the pilot did not report any malfunction to the Airport Traffic Control (ATC), before landing.

Helpline Numbers

Following are the helpline numbers where information on the Mangalore Air India Express airplane crash can be ascertained:

Dubai:04 2165829

Mangalore: (0824) 222 04 22/201 01 67

Delhi: (011) 256 031 01

Bangalore:(080) 222 73310

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Dubai helpline numbers

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