As told to Gulf News:
It was a rainy evening, and just another day at the airport. I was on duty, preparing for the landing of Air India flight, IX1344 from Dubai. This flight usually lands around 8pm (IST). Suddenly, I heard chatter around me that the flight was nowhere to be seen on the runway. Since it was raining outside, we hadn’t heard anything unusual.
I wasn’t using a walkie-talkie at that moment, but just a few seconds later, my colleagues around me started saying there had been an accident, and we immediately left our office to head to the site.
My colleague and I ran to the closest exit, took a vehicle that was parked there, and headed to the place where the accident had taken place. The airport is in an elevated area and the flight had skidded off and fallen 50 feet further downward, on to the Kondotty Kunnampuram road.
The Kozhikode airport has a tabletop runway, where this flight was supposed to land at the ‘100 degree magnetic bearing’ point on the runway, after taxiing till the ‘280 degree magnetic bearing’ point, it should have turned, and headed towards the area assigned for parking. However, that didn’t happen.
When we reached the accident spot, the atmosphere was tense. All we could see were flashing lights from the fire and rescue team, people screaming and some trying to direct rescuers, loud sirens.
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The fire and rescue team that had already reached, had started rescuing people, who were stuck in the flight.
As we neared the flight, we could see that the cockpit had hit a wall fence and the plane had broken into two. This is where the captain was found unconscious. We later came to know that he did not survive the crash.
I also saw an injured child being taken out from the flight. By this time, many ambulances from government and private hospitals around us, had reached the airport. And, people in the neighbourhood, who had noticed the mishap, started coming in to help.
We all tried to pitch in as much as possible, but the rain was not making things any easier. The night fog was also setting in.
Everyone tried to help passengers safely out from the debris.
Since the aircraft had fallen from a height, there was fuel leak. This can cause a fire or even an explosion, so people were asked to switch off their mobile phones. And the fire team started to pump water to cool the aircraft down.
The airport taxis also helped in transferring people to hospitals. Around 60 airport taxis were helping people who were being brought out.
It took nearly three hours to ensure that all the passengers had been evacuated, by 11pm (IST), the Central Industrial Security Force gate at the airport had been closed, and we left to return home.
This is not the first time an aircraft has skid on this runway. A couple of years ago, a similar incident happened but there were no injuries, the flight had just moved few feet ahead and was parked further on a side.