Sunday, May 23, 2010

158 killed as plane crashes at Mangalore
Govind Belgaumkar & Sudipto Mondal
Air India Express flight from Dubai overshoots runway, plunges into valley; 8 survive miraculously


MANGALORE: An Air India Express plane from Dubai overshot the table-top runway at the Mangalore airport on Saturday morning and plunged over a cliff into a wooded valley, killing 158 persons.
There were 160 passengers and six crew members on board Flight IX-812. The passengers included 137 adults, 19 children and 4 infants. Eight passengers survived miraculously.
The plane burst into flames after the crash, which occurred at 6.10 a.m. The captain of the flight, Z. Glusica, a British national of Serbian origin, and his co-pilot H.S. Ahluwalia are among the dead. Nine passengers did not board the flight, according to the manifest.
Mohammad Usman, a survivor, who was in seat no. 19 said: “I heard a horrible sound when the plane landed. Within a few seconds it caught fire and the flames spread inside. I crawled out from a crack near the left wing. I removed my seat belt in time and saved myself.”

Krishnan Koolikunnu, a survivor, has lunch at a hospital in Mangalore on Saturday.
Another survivor, Joel Prathap D'Souza, astounded airport officials when he turned up at the arrival wing for immigration formalities.
Fire tenders had a tough time reaching the inaccessible crash site. Residents of the nearby Kenjar village rose to the occasion, throwing themselves selflessly into the rescue work, carrying bodies out of the burning wreckage. Police said all 158 bodies were recovered by evening.
Reasons unclear
The reasons for the crash are as yet unclear. Minister of State for Civil Aviation Praful Patel said an enquiry by the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had been ordered.

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