Air India crash: Black box, cockpit voice recorder recovered as death toll rises to 18

News Desk

NEW DELHI: The black box and cockpit voice recorder have been recovered from the site of an Air India Express passenger aircraft crash in Kerala, a top official at the Directorate General of Civil Aviation told Reuters on Saturday.

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.

On Saturday, the death toll rose to 18, with 16 people severely injured in the crash.

The flight was carrying 190 passengers and crew.

The plane’s pilot and the co-pilot were killed in the accident, K Gopalakrishnan, chief of the Malappuram district in Kerala, told Reuters.

“All passengers have been admitted to various hospitals, and they are also being tested for COVID-19,” Gopalakrishnan said, adding autopsy of the bodies would be carried out according to the COVID-19 protocol.

The Boeing-737 the plane skidded off the table-top runway of Calicut, crashing nose-first into the ground. Such runways are located at an altitude and have steep drops at one or both ends.

In 2010, another Air India Express flight from Dubai overshot the table-top runway at Mangalore, a city in the south, and slid down a hill, killing 158 people.

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri last night told national broadcaster DD News that only an investigation would reveal the cause of the crash.

Puri said authorities managed to rescue most of the passengers because the plane did not catch fire while descending the slope at the end of the runway.

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

Air India Express AXB1344 was a government-operated repatriation flight for Indians previously unable to return home because of travel restrictions.