The flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder have been recovered from the site of the Indian passenger aircraft crash which has killed 18 people and left 16 with severe injuries.
- The Air India Express plane reportedly overshot the runway of the Calicut International Airport in heavy rain near the southern city of Kozhikode
- A survivor said the pilot made a regular announcement before landing and the plane nosedived moments after hitting the runway
- The crash left 18 dead and more than 120 injured
Both black boxes have been found, according to an official at the Indian Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
The Air India Express plane, which was repatriating Indians stranded in Dubai due to the COVID-19 pandemic, overshot the runway of the Calicut International Airport in heavy rain near the southern city of Kozhikode on Friday.
The plane swayed violently as it approached a hilltop runway soaked by monsoon rain, then skidded off, nosedived and cracked in two, leaving 18 dead and more than 120 injured.
The dead include both pilots, the airline said in a statement, adding that the four cabin crew were safe.
There were 174 adult passengers, 10 infants, two pilots and four cabin crew on board the Boeing 737-800.
“A lot of passengers were bleeding,” said plumber Renjith Panangad, who survived the crash without major injuries.
“I still can’t comprehend what happened. As I am trying to recall what happened, my body is shivering.”
Mr Panangad was returning home for the first time in three years after losing his job at a construction company in Dubai.
He said the pilot made a regular announcement before landing then, moments after the plane hit the runway, it nosedived.
“There was a big noise during the impact and people started screaming,” he said.
He said he followed other passengers who crawled their way out of the fuselage through the emergency exit.
The wreckage of the plane rests below a flat hilltop, its nose crashed through a wall.
The aircraft’s fuselage was split in two, cables dangled from the wreckage and luggage and seats were strewn around.
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep S Puri said in a statement that the flight “overshot the runway in rainy conditions and went down” the slope, breaking into two pieces upon impact.
Questions dogging investigators would include not only the aircraft, weather and pilots but also the runway itself.
Its end safety area was expanded in 2018 to accommodate wide-body aircraft.
Local media reported that the country’s aviation regulator had sought an explanation from the director of the Kozhikode airport in 2019 on finding “various critical safety lapses,” which included cracks on the runway, water stagnation and excessive rubber deposits.
Officials from the aviation regulator said it was too early to tell at this point whether the accident was a result of a technical error or human error.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that he was “pained by the plane accident in Kozhikode”.