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India plane crash in Mangalore leaves about 160 dead
BayBak, Azerbaijan | 1123 days ago | Saturday, 22nd May , 2010 , 11:53 [am] | International
|.|| Nearly 160 people are feared dead after a passenger jet crashed on landing in the southern Indian city of Mangalore.
Air India Express said there were seven survivors among the 160 passengers
Nearly 160 people are feared dead after a passenger jet crashed on landing in the southern Indian city of Mangalore.
Air India Express said there were seven survivors among the 160 passengers and six crew on board its Boeing 737 arriving from Dubai.
The plane overshot the hilltop runway as it tried to land and burst into flames in a forested valley beyond.
Survivors said they thought they heard what sounded like a tyre bursting just before the crash.
Speaking to Indian TV from his hospital bed, survivor Umer Farooq said he heard a loud thud as the plane touched down.
“Then the plane veered off toward some trees on the side and then the cabin filled with smoke. I got caught in some cables but managed to scramble out,” he said.
Mr Farooq was being treated for burns to his arms, legs, and face.
All the passengers on the flight were Indian nationals, with many returning from jobs in the Gulf to visit their families, says the BBC’s Sanjoy Majumder in Delhi. There were up to 20 children on board, our correspondent adds.
The airline said the plane overshot the runway as it came into land at about 0600 (0030 GMT) and crashed into a wooded valley.
A light, pre-monsoon rain was reported to be falling at the time.
Mangalore airport is located at the top of a hill with a forested valley at the end of the runway. Analysts say it presents challenges for pilots.
TV pictures showed rescue workers and local villagers scrambling on steep hillsides to search the smoking wreckage.
A Mangalore police official told the BBC that smoke from the crash site had made it difficult for rescue workers to gain access to the plane.
“As far as the information available with us is concerned, eight persons were rescued and shifted to local hospitals in Mangalore for treatment,” Air India official Anup Shrivasta told reporters.
He said one of the survivors had died on the way to hospital. A police official described the casualty as a seven-year-old boy, AFP news agency reported.
Of the seven survivors, one had already been discharged, two or three were being treated for minor injuries and another three had serious injuries, the airline said.
Another Mangalore police official told the BBC that 120 bodies had been recovered, some burned beyond recognition.
One of the survivors, KP Manikutty, said the landing had at first appeared to be smooth and then the plane had crashed with no warning.
“Immediately on touching the ground, the aircraft jerked and in a few moments hit something,” he said.
“Then it split in the middle and caught fire. I just jumped from the gap,” he added.
Local media named the pilot as Serbian Zlatko Glusica. He was said to have 10,000 hours of flying time, including experience of Mangalore’s airport.
AFP news agency said Mr Glusica also had British citizenship.
It is not known what caused the crash.
The pilot gave no distress call to the control tower, said VP Agarwal, the head of the Airport Authority of India.
He also said visibility was not a problem.
“The visibility was six kilometres (four miles) when the aircraft approached the runway which was more than sufficient,” Mr Agarwal said.
Air India Express began operations about five years ago as an offshoot of the state-run Air India.
Its Boeing 737-800 was less than three years old.
India’s air safety record has been good in the past decade, despite a rapid increase in the number of private airlines and air travel in the country.
The last major crash happened in the city of Patna in July 2000, killing at least 50 people.bbc, Voice of a Nation