Sunday, May 23, 2010

Air India confirms 158 dead in crash - My Letters - THE NATIONAL - Dt 23.05.2010

My Letters - THE NATIONAL - Dt 23.05.2010 - Air India confirms 158 dead in crash

Air India confirms 158 dead in crash
Praveen Menon and Leah Oatway

Last Updated: May 22. 2010 11:30PM UAE / May 22. 2010 7:30PM GMT
Civilians look on as Indian firefighters and rescue personnel gather around the site of an Air India plane that crashed in Mangalore, in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, Saturday, May 22, 2010. AP Photo
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

My comments as follows:

I join amongst many expatriate passengers who has no other alternate option other than to use limited operational facilities of Air India Express to travel to various smaller airports in India. The fear associated always with flying in it, especially during the landing is always talked up on. God forbidden, there were no tragedy involved, but it was not the case this morning. I was one amongst the many with profound grief and sadness, who gathered for a condolence meeting held at the ISCC Abu Dhabi to pray for the departed souls. Many stories were told touching our emotions about lost friends and family, known and unknown. May be it is due a technical error or human error, or some other unknown reason. Finally, it is a national loss and a major personal loss to those who got affected in it. Let us all, pray to god, calamities of this sort never repeats due to man made errors, as fate and destiny never give choices to us to escape from the natural disasters of unknown kind.

Ramesh Menon
Abu Dhabi.
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