Plane skids off runway in India; 14 killed, dozens hurt

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One of the persons injured after an Air India Express flight skidded off a runway while landing at the Kozhikode airport is brought for treatment to the Medical College Hospital in Kozhikode, Kerala state, India, Friday, Aug. 7, 2020. (AP Photo)

NEW DELHI (AP) — An Air India Express flight with 190 people on board skidded off a runway and split in two while landing Friday in heavy rain in southern India. Police said at least 14 people were killed and 123 others injured.

Abdul Karim, a senior Kerala state police officer, said the dead included one of the pilots. He said at least 15 of the injured were in critical condition, and that rescue operations were over.

Rajiv Jain, a spokesman for the Civil Aviation Ministry, said no fire was reported on the Boeing 737 aircraft after it landed and broke into two pieces.

The NDTV news channel said the plane flew from Dubai to Kozhikode, also called Calicut, in the state of Kerala in southern India.

It was a repatriation flight carrying Indian citizens back to the country, officials said. Regular commercial flights have been halted in India because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Jain said there were 174 adult passengers, 10 infants, two pilots and four cabin crew on board the aircraft.

Amitabh Kant, who heads the government’s planning commission, said the runway is on a hilltop with deep gorges on either side, making it difficult to land.

“The incident happened because of heavy rains and poor visibility. This is truly devastating,” he told NDTV.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted that he was “pained by the plane accident in Kozhikode,” and that he had spoken to Kerala’s top elected official.

Air India Express is a subsidiary of Air India.

The worst air disaster in India was on Nov. 12, 1996, when a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight collided midair with a Kazakhastan Airlines Flight near Charki Dadri in Haryana state, killing all 349 on board the two planes.

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