At least 18 people died in the crash, including both pilots, with up to 30 others receiving treatment for serious injuries, according to CV Anand, Central Industrial Security Force’s Inspector General. The flight’s data recorder has been recovered from the wreckage, Anand said.
The flight, number IX-1344, overshot the runway in rainy conditions, “went down 35-feet into a slope before breaking up into two pieces,” Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri told CNN.
The flight from Dubai to Kozhikode, also known as Calicut, had 190 people on board, according to Air India Express.
“There are 174 passengers, 10 infants, 2 pilots, 4 cabin crew on board the aircraft,” the statement said, adding that “no fire reported at the time of landing.” The airline added that the flight’s four crew members were “confirmed safe.”
Images from the scene showed a broken fuselage with pieces of the plane scattered across what appears to be a field, as well as people searching through the debris.
Puri told CNN that amid bad weather conditions the pilot had “tried to land earlier, but then did a turnaround.”
“The aircraft would not be brought to a halt by the end of the runway, and there’s a 35-foot drop in a gorge,” he said, adding that the plane — fortunately — did not catch fire.
According to Anand, the evacuation of the plane ended after the “last female passenger was pulled out of the wreckage at 23.10 p.m. IST,” he told CNN.
The plane was one of the repatriation flights operated by the Indian government to bring back nationals stranded abroad due to Covid-19 travel restrictions, information on the Air India website shows.
Both India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar sent their condolences to the families of the victims on Twitter.
Air India Express is a wholly owned subsidiary of Air India, according to its website. It operates 25 Boeing 737-800 NG aircraft.
CNN’s Mallika Kallingal, Martin Goillandeau, Rishabh M Pratap and Diana Ford contributed to this report.