Kerala plane crash: 'Black boxes' from Air India jet found

The flight was carrying Indian citizens left stranded by the coronavirus pandemic

Investigators have found the so-called "black boxes" of a plane that crashed in the southern India state of Kerala, killing at least 18 people.

The Air India Express plane, en route from Dubai, skidded off the runway during bad weather before breaking in two while landing at Kozhikode airport.

There were 190 people on board the flight and one official said it was a "miracle" the toll was not higher.

It is still India's worst passenger air crash in a decade.

The flight was repatriating Indians stranded by the coronavirus crisis. First responders to the crash have been asked to go into quarantine.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was "pained" by the accident.

What do we know about the crash?

Flight IX 1134 was carrying 184 passengers, including 10 infants, and six crew when it attempted to land at the airport in Kozhikode, formerly known as Calicut.

The Boeing 737 aircraft crashed at 19:40 local time (14:10 GMT) on Friday. Indian media said the pilots could not see the runway during a first attempt at landing due to heavy rain.

When they did touch down, the plane is said to have landed 1,000 metres beyond the threshold of the runway before skidding off and sliding into a ditch.

A map showing where Kerala is in India
Transparent line

The impact broke the plane in two. Images from the scene showed the fuselage shredded, with the blue seats from the jet scattered along the ground.

Kozhikode has a table-top airport, a challenge for air crew during difficult landings as they typically have steep drops at one or both ends of the runway.

Both the pilots were among the dead. Nearly 150 people are being treated in hospital.

What's the latest on the investigation?

India's Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri visited the scene of the crash on Saturday, where he announced the recovery of the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder, which could prove crucial to investigating the crash.

He praised the lead pilot and said it was too early to say what the precise cause of the accident was.

Media captionAftermath of the Kerala plane crash shows the plane broken in two

"We have to be grateful that the casualties are only this much," he said.

"The aircraft fell 35 feet [10 metres] down and rescue people were able to reach there immediately, cut the body of the plane and retrieve people trapped inside."

An unnamed official told AFP: "Fuel had leaked out so it was a miracle that the plane did not catch fire, the toll could have been much higher," one senior emergency official at the scene said."


Victim who never made it

By Imran Qureshi, BBC News

Twenty-nine-year old Sharfudeen was so excited about returning home that he posted on social media that they would be back within hours.

He never made it, one of the victims of the crash at Kozhikode Airport.

His baby daughter and his wife Amina were injured and are being treated in hospital.

"The doctors told us that she is fine. She has been shifted to the intensive care ward,'' Hani Hasan, her uncle, told the BBC.

"She was constantly asking for her husband. We did not tell her anything,'' he added.

At least half of the passengers were those who had lost their jobs or whose visas had expired. The remaining where largely Indian nationals who had got stranded in Dubai because of the coronavirus lockdown.


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