An airplane in India skidded off the runway and crashed at the Kozhikode Calicut International Airport on Friday amid heavy rain. The incident caused the death of at least 18 individuals, including two pilots. It also injured 123 people, according to the police.

The incident

The Air India Express plane, a Boeing 737 with flight number IX-1344 and carried 190 people, broke into halves as it crashed in the India’s southern state of Kerala. The aircraft flew from Dubai and landed on Kozhikode, where the incident occurred. There were no reported fires.

The passenger jet was actually taking stranded Indian citizens to their homeland, as most of the commercial airline travels are currently restricted due to the pandemic.

Per a statement from Air India Express: “There are 174 passengers, 10 infants, 2 pilots, 4 cabin crew on board the aircraft.” The data recorder for the flight was also recovered, said CV Anand, Inspector General of Central Industrial Security Force, while up to 30 others are being treated over serious injuries.

Broke into two

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri told CNN that the aircraft “overshot the runway in rainy conditions and went down 35-feet into a slope before breaking up into two pieces.” He also mentioned that the airplane’s pilot attempted for an earlier land despite the unpleasant weather, “but then did a turnaround.”

According to aviation consultant in Dubai Mark Martin that the weather conditions may be a factor for the crash, but it was still too early to tell. Puri also told the press that the exact cause of the accident was still unidentified. An investigation for the event is now underway to be conducted by the Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau. Martin also sought help regarding probe from the European Aviation Safety Agency and the United States Federal Aviation Administration.

Rainy weather

Martin further said, “Low visibility, wet runway, low cloud base, all leading to very poor braking action is what looks like led to where we are at the moment with this crash.” The government’s planning commissioner Amitabh Kant also echoed the same suggestion of bad weather conditions. He said the landing was hard because the runway is located atop a hill with deep gorges on both sides.

Aljazeera noted that the incident is the worst passenger aircraft accident in India since 10 years ago. An Air India Express jet coming from Dubai also slid down during landing in Managlore City, and a death toll of 158.

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