7 survive horrific India plane crash

2010-05-22 13:43

Seven people survived the Air India Express plane crash in which

nearly 160 people were killed.

While attempting to land on a tricky hilltop airstrip, the plane

overshot the runway, crashed and burst into flames at dawn.

Dense black smoke billowed from the wreckage of the flaming Boeing

737-800 aircraft in a hilly area with thick grass and trees just outside

Mangalore’s Bajpe airport.

Firefighters sprayed water and foam on the plane – which was

travelling from Dubai – as others struggled to find survivors.

An Associated Press photo showed two rescuers running up a hill

carrying a young girl covered in foam to waiting medics.

The child’s fate was

not immediately known.

The plane was carrying 160 passengers – all Indian – and six crew

members, Air India official Anup Srivastava said.

The British pilot and Indian co-pilot were killed.

Workers pulled scores of burned bodies from the blackened tangle of

aircraft cables, twisted metal, charred trees and mud at the crash site.

Many of the dead were strapped into their seats, their bodies

burned beyond recognition.

Relatives of the victims, who had come to the airport to meet them,

stood near the wreckage weeping.

“This is a major calamity,” V.S. Acharya, home minister for the

state of Karnataka, told CNN-IBN.

Ummer Farook Mohammed, a survivor who suffered burns on his face

and hands, said it felt like a tyre burst after the plane landed.

“There was a loud bang, and the plane caught fire,” he said.

“The plane shook with vibrations and split into two,” G.K. Pradeep,

another survivor, told CNN-IBN television.

He jumped out of the aircraft with four others into a pit, he

said.

The plane had a small fire at first, but then a large explosion set

off a bigger blaze, he said.

By this afternoon, rescuers had pulled 127 bodies from the

wreckage, the airline said.

Seven survivors had been rescued and were being treated in local

hospitals.

Air India runs cheap flights under the Air India Express banner to

Dubai and other Middle Eastern destinations where millions of Indian expatriate

workers are employed.

The crash was the deadliest in India since the November 1996 midair

collision between a Saudi airliner and a Kazakh cargo plane near New Delhi that

killed 349 people.



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