Air India confirms 158 dead in crash
An Air India Express passenger plane from Dubai crashed outside the Mangalore airport in southern India today, killing 158 people when it burst into flames after overshooting a table-top runway and plunging into forest below. There were only eight survivors after the Boeing 737-800 appeared to have skidded off the runway in rain in Karnataka state, Air India director Anup Srivastava said. It is believed 146 bodies had been recovered. "We had no hope to survive, but we survived," Pradeep, a survivor who is an Indian technician working in Dubai, told local television. "The plane broke into two and we jumped off the plane. As soon as the plane landed, within seconds this happened." Investigators in India say the preliminary findings show the aircraft touched down about 2,000 feet (610 metres) too late on the 8,000-foot runway. But experts said that type of aircraft still had plenty of room to stop safely. The national carrier of India had 163 passengers, seven crew members and four infants. As many as 19 of the passengers were children. The flight took off from Dubai Airport Terminal 2 at around 1am this morning and was expected to land at the newly constructed Mangalore Airport. The entire Kenjar village has turned into a crash site as rescue operators search through the wreckage for possible survivors. The black box has been recovered from the flight. "The black box of the aircraft has been recovered and the mandatory court of inquiry ordered by the Director General of Civil Aviation," WAM news agency reported from India.
The Indian consulate in Dubai confirmed that they have been flooded with calls since morning as many Indians living in the UAE were on the flight. According to Mr Pathak, the airline has been contacted by many passengers' relatives in Dubai and is considering chartering a flight to Mangalore for relatives. A hotline number has been set up at Terminal 2 airport and another city control room will soon be functional at the Air India office in Dubai. Delhi: 011-25656196, 25603101 Mangalore: 0824-2220422, 2010167 Dubai: 00971-4-2165828, 00971-4-2165829 Air India Express operates flights out of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Sharjah International Airports. Flight IX 812 operates seven days a week from Dubai International Airport Terminal II to Mangalore Airport at 115 am with a flight duration of 3 hours, 45 minutes. The fare for a flight next Friday May 28 on the Boeing 737-800 is dh750. The company also operates five flights per week from Abu Dhabi to Mangalore. email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org * Reuters
Updated: May 22, 2010 04:00 AM