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Air India Express COVID-19 repatriation plane crashes in Kerala

Friday’s crash is the worst passenger aircraft accident in the country since 2010, when an Air India Express flight, also from Dubai, overshot the runway and slid down a hill while landing in the southern Indian city of Mangalore, killing 158 people.

Both Mangalore and Calicut have table-top runways that are located at an altitude and have steep drops at one or both ends of the runway.

The Air India Express plane was repatriating Indians who had been stuck in Dubai during the pandemic.

The Air India Express plane was repatriating Indians who had been stuck in Dubai during the pandemic.Credit:AP

Media reports suggested the plane skidded off the runway of Calicut international airport, crashing nose-first into the ground. Calicut is in the southern state of Kerala, home to a large number of Indians working in the Middle East.

Puri said rescue operations had been completed and all passengers had been removed from the aircraft. Police said earlier four people were stuck in the wreckage.

The Kerala state police chief said at least 16 people had been killed, with at least four passengers stuck the wreckage.

The civil aviation ministry said in a statement there was no fire on board.

The Air India Express plane was repatriating Indians who had been stuck in Dubai during the pandemic.

The Air India Express plane was repatriating Indians who had been stuck in Dubai during the pandemic.Credit:AP

India, which shut down all air travel in late March to try to contain the novel coronavirus, has restarted limited international air travel.

Local TV news channels showed passengers, some of them lying motionless on stretchers, brought into a hospital surrounded by health workers wearing masks because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Air India Express AXB1344 was a repatriation flight operated by the government to bring Indians home during international travel restrictions due to the spread of the novel coronavirus. Millions of Indians work in the Gulf.

“Pained by the plane accident in Kozhikode,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, referring to Calicut’s new name. “My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones. May the injured recover at the earliest.”

Reuters

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