New Delhi , Aug 8:
Air India Express has rushed three relief flights to Kozhikode in Kerala to assist passengers and their family members affected by the plane crash a day ago.
Officials said Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri would go to Kozhikode on Saturday.
The Air India Express flight from Dubai with 190 on board overshot the tabletop runway at Kozhikode airport on Friday night while landing in heavy rains and fell into a valley 35 feet below and broke into two, killing at least 18 people.
The pilot-in-command Captain Deepak Sathe and his co-pilot Akhilesh Kumar were among those who died, police and airline officials said. Sathe was a former Wing Commander of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and had served at the force”s flight testing establishment.
Four cabin crew members of the Air India Express flight that crash landed at the Karipur airport here are safe, the national transporter said on Saturday.
“The four cabin crew members are confirmed safe,” Air India Express said in a bulletin. There were 184 passengers including 10 infants, 2 pilots and 4 cabin crew on board the aircraft the bulletin says.
Riyas, one of the passengers, who was rescued, said the flight went around the airport twice before attempting to land.
“I was in the back seat. There was a big noise and I don”t know what happened after that,” he told a TV channel, another passenger, said the flight landed with heavy force and moved forward.
Calicut International Airport is an international airport located in Karipur, Malappuram district of Kerala,It was given international airport status on 2 February 2006 and it is also the only airport in the state with a Tabletop runway.
The airport director K Janardhanan said the short runway was a major hurdle in operating the wide-bodied aircraft from the table top airport and the runway length should be extended from the current 2,850 m to 3,150 m to operate wide-bodied aircraft, he added. The major hurdle in extending the runway is the delay in acquiring the land which require a total of 156 hectares (385 acres) of land for extending the runway and associated facilities.
The state government has been finding the task difficult, for it requires relocation of 1,500 families living around the airport.