A survivor of the Air India Express flight crash in Kerala today recalled the anguish of fellow passengers, hours after the accident that killed at least 18 people.
"This is a huge tragedy. We had put our hands on the seat in front of us to balance ourselves while trying to survive the fall. As the plane crashed, it split into two pieces," the survivor, one of the five patients admitted to the Aster MIMS hospital in Kozhikode, told news agency ANI.
"Everyone around was crying. Somebody said both pilots have died, two women have died. In newspapers, we read 17-18 people died. Probably, the weather was to blame."
"If the situation was not feasible, they could have attempted to land the plane at another airport... but it's surreal what has happened.. like it was a dream. Perhaps, it was god's will," he said.
Amid heavy rain, the Air India Express flight IX-1344, carrying 184 people including passengers and crew from Dubai, broke into pieces after skidding off the runway at Kozhikode airport at 7:41 PM.
This morning its black box was found. 127 people - injured in the accident - have been admitted to 13 hospitals in and around Kozhikode.
The flight was operating under the Vande Bharat Mission to repatriate Indians stranded abroad because of the coronavirus lockdown
Five patients were admitted to the MIMS Hospital. "Most of them are suspected to have traumatic brain injury. One patient suffered an abdominal injury and another patient had a head injury. The rest have limb trauma. They are in stable condition and are being kept under observation," Dr Muhammad Shafi, Head of Department of the Department, Emergency Medicine, told ANI.
Most passengers, who were on board, suffered trauma injuries, Satya Pradhan, Director, NDRF (National Disaster Response Force), told NDTV.
"There have been trauma injuries to almost all the passengers because of the landing impact. Among those who are hospitalised, several passengers are critical," Satya Pradhan, Director, NDRF, told NDTV.
"I must praise the local administration and volunteers at the airport, they did a stellar job during the rescue operations. We are grateful that the plane did not catch fire. The tragedy could have been much worse," he said.
The Boeing 737 NG skidded off the runway and fell into a steep slide at the tabletop airport before it broke in pieces. The plane, which had been trying to land for some time, landed 1 km down the length of the runway at the tabletop airport, sources in the regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation have told NDTV.
Helplines: Air India Express - 1800 2222 71, Airport Control Room - 0483 2719493, Malappuram Collectorate - 0483 2736320, Kozhikode Collectorate - 0495 2376901