Death Toll Rises After Air India Express 737-800 Overshoots Runway
Casualty figures were reportedly rising the evening of Aug. 7 after an Air India Express Boeing 737-800, en route from Dubai to Calicut, overshot the runway while on landing at Kozhikode-Calicut International Airport (CCJ) at 7:41 pm local time, according to media reports.
The Times of India said that India’s civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted that 16 had died and that the aircraft ‘overshot the runway in rainy conditions & went down 35 ft. into a slope before breaking up into two pieces.’
India is in the midst of its monsoon season and the runway at Kozhikode-Calicut, in the southern Indian state of Kerala, was reportedly very wet when the aircraft landed.
Video from the crash site showed rain falling heavily as rescuers and large crowds of airport personnel surrounded the stricken aircraft.
Preliminary images showed the aircraft fuselage split into two pieces just aft of the forward doors, with debris spread widely around the wreckage.
In a Twitter message, Air India Express said Flight AXB-1344 carried “174 passengers, 10 infants, two pilots and four cabin crew.” No fire was reported at the time of landing, the airline said, adding “as per the initial reports, rescue operations are on and passengers are being taken to hospital for medical care.”
The airport has a ‘tabletop’ runway built atop a plateau, with steep slopes both to the sides and the ends of the landing strip. The airport has a single runway, 10/28, at a length of 2,860 m (9,300 ft.).
The Hindustan Times reported the Air India Express flight was part of the Vande Bharat Mission, meant to bring home stranded people from other countries amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is the second fatal crash for Air India Express. On May 22, 2010, a 737-800 crashed at Mangalore-Bajpe Airport, India, inbound from Dubai, during landing. Total number of fatalities in the accident was 158, from 166 on board.