The death toll in Friday evening’s aircraft crashlanding accident in southern India has risen to 14, with 123 others injured, a local police officer has confirmed.
Private news agency Asian News International (ANI) quoted Malappuram’s superintendent of police as saying that “14 dead, 123 injured and 15 seriously injured in Kozhikode plane crash incident.”
Earlier, a top official of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had said that at least six persons, including two pilots, had died in the mishap.
The cause of the accident has not been announced yet, but media reports said that the pilots tried to land the aircraft amid heavy rains and it skidded off on the wet runway.
The mishap took place at 19:41 hours (Indian Standard Time) when the Air India plane, a Boeing 737, with around 195 people, including 189 passengers and six crew members onboard, skidded off the runway at Kozhikode Airport. The plane broke into two parts.
The Kozhikode Airport is said to be a “tabletop airport”, having a deep valley at the end of the runway. Among the passengers were at least 10 infants, said media reports.
The plane took off from Dubai on Friday evening carrying Indian citizens stuck there amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The DGCA official also said that among the dead were the two pilots. All others onboard the ill-fated plane have been evacuated from the accident site and are being given first aid.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed sadness at the tragedy in a tweet message, saying authorities are at the spot providing all assistance to the affected.
Air India Express, a subsidiary of Air India, also tweeted confirming the mishap. It said the accident will not stop its “Vande Bharat Mission” to bring back Indians stuck overseas amid the COVID-19 pandemic.