The black box and cockpit voice recorder have been recovered from the site of an Indian passenger aircraft crash in a southern state, a top official at the Directorate General of Civil Aviation told Reuters on Saturday.
The Air India Express plane, which was repatriating Indians stranded from Dubai due to the COVID-19 pandemic, overshot the runway of the Calicut International Airport in heavy rain near the southern city of Kozhikode on Friday.
On Saturday, the death toll rose to 18, with 16 people severely injured in the crash.
The Boeing-737 plane skidded off the table-top runway of Calicut, crashing nose-first into the ground. Such runways are located at an altitude and have steep drops at one or both ends.
In 2010, another Air India Express flight from Dubai overshot the table-top runway at Mangalore, a city in the south, and slid down a hill, killing 158 people.
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri visited the site of the accident on Saturday.
“It (the plane) overshot the runway while trying to land amidst what were clearly inclement weather conditions prevailing at that time,” Puri told a news conference, adding that it would be premature to speculate on the precise cause of the accident.
Puri said two separate teams had already reached Kozhikode from New Delhi to carry out an investigation into the crash.
He said authorities managed to rescue most of the passengers because the plane did not catch fire while descending the slope at the end of the runway.
Giving a breakdown of all those on board the plane, Puri earlier said they included 10 children, 174 adult passengers, four cabin crew and two pilots.
“The pilot tried a lot to land us (safely) in the rainy weather. It was cloudy and around 7-7.30 pm (GMT 1330-1400) in the evening, we crash-landed. It was difficult to land, he tried a lot,” said one passenger, who gave his name as Ashraf.