Monday, August 10, 2020

Plane did not slide, took off cliff, collapsed: CISF officer who saw last minutes of Air India Express flight

Hyderabad: “No, the plane did not slide 35-feet down the hill.” CISF Assistant Sub-Inspector Ajith Singh, who was on duty as Kozhikode Airport’s Gate Number 8, had this to say about the final minutes of Air India Express AI-IX1344: “I saw it slightly take off from the cliff and then collapse on to the road, just 15 feet away from our post. All of it happened in less than 4 seconds.”
At 7.40 pm on August 7, when the Air India Express aircraft from Dubai was about to land at the airport in Karippur, the 31-year-old Singh was talking to ASI Mangal Singh at the duty post, as part of perimeter patrolling duties. “There was no sound before the crash. The endpoint of the runway is parallel to the entrance of the perimeter gate from where we could see any flight take off or land,” Singh told

“I have seen flights take off and land for the last five years. This one did not slide down. Had it slid down, the body of the plane would have broken mid-way and you could find debris on the hill slope. It did not happen that way.”

As the plane crashed near the road, making a thundering noise, the area near the cockpit separated and slid down further crashing into the perimeter wall at a distance. The ASI alerted the airport control room and also the CISF barracks, just a kilometer away. The accident site is around 3 kilometer from the airport terminal.

“In 2-4 minutes, a few locals had come to the site. And in no time, we had 20-25 more people and an earthmover machine at the gate. Our QRT (quick response team), our CISF bachelor party, and the airport fire services had also reached by then,” said Singh, adding that the public was very supportive.

Along with him, three or four locals entered the wing area of the plane where maximum damage, according to him, had happened. The interior lights of the aircraft were still on and some unhurt passengers were helping themselves out. “I had four-five locals with me inside while some others waited at the emergency exit. People were crying for help. There were many children too. We had to use cutters to remove those crushed in between seats,” he recalled.
11/08/20 Rahul V Pisharody/Indian Express

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