Air India Express Flight IX 1344 from Dubai to Kozhikode overshot the runway while landing around 7:40 pm.

At least 18 people were killed after an Air India Express plane with 190 on board from Dubai skidded off the runway and broke in two while landing at Kerala’s Kozhikode on Friday amid heavy rain. Among those killed were the two pilots of Flight IX-1344

All on board were evacuated after a nearly three-hour operation and at least 112 injured were taken to hospitals in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts, authorities said.

There were 174 passengers, 10 Infants, two pilots and four cabin crew members on board the aircraft.

The flight was part of the Vande Bharat programme that has been bringing back Indians from abroad amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Television images from the site showed part of the fuselage of the Boeing 737 jet ripped apart with debris strewn all over.

The incident took place amid very heavy rainfall in the area around 7:40 pm. A greater tragedy was averted as the plane did not catch fire. Emergency services personnel were seen working in the dark and spraying the wreckage with water.

According to flight-tracking website FlightRadar24, the aircraft circled the airport several times and made two attempts to land.

The Kozhikode airport, carved on top of a hill, is one of Kerala’s most prominent international terminals and handles a significant number of flights from abroad, Congress lawmaker Shashi Tharoor told NDTV.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “Pained by the plane accident in Kozhikode. My thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones. May the injured recover at the earliest. Spoke to Kerala CM @vijayanpinarayi Ji regarding the situation. Authorities are at the spot, providing all assistance to the affected.”

Meanwhile, an urgent meeting was called by the Civil Aviation Ministry in New Delhi, news agency ANI reported. Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) Director-General, officials of the ministry, Airport Authority of India (AAI) and Air India Express reps attended the meeting.

Kerala has been hammered by heavy rainfall through the day that triggered landslides and left at least 19 people dead.

Around 50 others are still feared trapped in debris after a landslide in the hilly Idukki district.

Helplines: Air India Express – 1800 2222 71, Airport Control Room – 0483 2719493, Malappuram Collectorate – 0483 2736320, Kozhikode Collectorate – 0495 2376901.