Mangalore, May 22: Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said on May 22, Saturday, at a press conference held at the Bajpe Airport that Air India will give the families of the plane crash victims a compensation of USD 160,000. The minister, who had arrived on the spot following the tragic plane crash, expressed his grief and said that the incident is “tragic.” He also said that the Boeing 737-800, which was operating as Flight IX-812 from Dubai to Mangalore, had a normal flight, had no defects, and reported no problems.
The pilot had informed the airport that he would be soon be touching the runway when he was 4 miles away from it; however, things went wrong at the last moment. The runway is 2450m with a safety area of 90m and is suitable for a 737 Boeing landing. The aircraft was purchased in 2007 and had absolutely no defect. The weather conditions at 6 a.m. in the morning were quite normal with a visibility of 6kms, calm breeze, and no rains at the time of landing, explained the minister.
Speaking about the pilots, Patel said that Captain Z. Glusica who had more than 10,200 hours of flying experience to his credit had last landed at Bajpe Airport in November 2009. Co-pilot Captain H. S. Ahluwalia, based in Mangalore, had 3,650 hours of flying experience to his credit, out of which 3,350 hours were on Boeing 737.
Providing information about the passengers and the crew, the minister said that the aircraft carried a crew of 6 and 160 passengers, out of whom 8 were fortunate enough to survive. Four of the survivors sustained minor injuries, three of them sustained major injuries, and one was found unhurt. The entire wreckage was found and search and rescue operations were on since the time the plane crashed. Identification of the bodies and handing them over to the respective families will take some time, said the minister.
Following a DGCA order for an enquiry, Air India has constituted an enquiry team. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has also set up help lines in Mangalore, Kerala, Chennai, Delhi, and Dubai.
Declaring that India has a long and unblemished flight record, the minister said that this tragic incident has left everybody in shock. He expressed his sincere condolences to the bereaved families and added that all the bodies will be recovered by sunset.
Responding to journalists’ queries, he said that it is too early to make conclusive statements without enquiry. The plane overshot the runway; and not even the 90m sand-spill area could stop the flight. One of the wings of the aircraft was damaged and detached from the plane before hitting the localizer at the end of the runway. The plane couldn’t come to stop because of the speed with which it was travelling and plunged into the valley to a depth of 300ft, after which it broke into pieces. The passengers occupying seat numbers 7, 17, 21, and 23 undid their seat belts and leaped out of the plane.
Patel promised that he will provide all assistance to the families of the deceased.
Praful Patel willing to resign
Union Civil Aviation Minister said that he feels morally responsible for the air crash at Mangalore International Airport Saturday morning, which claimed the lives of 158 people.
He visited the site of the crash before meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Informing the PM about the incident, Patel said that he would resign. Reliable sources, however, say that the PM is not likely to accept Patel’s resignation.
Patel informed reporters that he had conveyed his grief over the tragic incident to the PM. He also said that the PM had advised him that “we must not be overcome” by the situation, but should face it.
Bodies of all 158 victims of the crash have been recovered.
A top police official has revealed that the bodies of all 158 victims of the Boeing crash near Mangalore International Airport have been recovered. Seemanth Kumar Singh, the commissioner of police, said that 72 bodies have already been identified. Since all the bodies have been found, the authorities have brought to an end the search and rescue operations.
WAM, the state news agency of the UAE, said that the black box of the Boeing has been found. But M. Nambiar, the Air India official, said that flight data recorder is yet to be found.
PM Manmohan Singh directly monitored the search and rescue operations at Mangalore, said Defence Minister A. K. Anthony, adding that the central government is constantly in touch with the government of Karnataka regarding provision of relief to the victims.
CM declares 1-day mourning for plane crash victims
Mangalore, May 22: Chief Minister B. S. Yeddyrappa has declared 1-day mourning in Karnataka for the unfortunate victims of the tragic plane crash at Mangalore International Airport. He visited the spot with Home Minister Dr. V. S. Acharya.
The CM also announced that the victims’ families will receive compensation of Rs 2 lakh from the state government. He said that the factors responsible for the crash will be made known after the investigation.
2-day mourning for plane crash victims in Kerala
The Government of Kerala declared a 2-day mourning period for the victims of the tragic plane crash at Mangalore International Airport since most of the unfortunate passengers on board hail from Kerala.
Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan and Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan visited Mangalore on Saturday morning after hearing about the plane crash.
A control room has been set up at Kasargod to provide information about passengers killed in the crash. The telephone number of the control room is 04994-257700 and the toll free number is 1079.
Defence minister expresses condolences
A. K. Anthony, the defence minister, expressed his grief and shock regarding the loss of 158 lives when a Boeing crashed into a valley near Mangalore International Airport on Saturday.
The minister said in a condolence message that he was “deeply grieved and shocked to learn the loss of precious lives in the Air India plane crash today.” He has expressed his “heartfelt condolences to the members of the bereaved families” and has wished “speedy recovery to those injured in the crash.”
Union Aviation Minister Praful Patel had informed journalists that there were 137 adults, 19 children, 4 infants, and a crew of 6 on the Boeing, out of whom only 8 were fortunate enough to survive.
The passengers were Indian nationals, said an Air India official in Dubai, adding that many of them were employed in Dubai.
AAI issues statement regarding Boeing crash
Air India officials said that Boeing 737-800, which crashed and burst into flames at Mangalore International Airport Saturday morning was just two-and-a-half-years old and was quite airworthy. The aircraft was introduced into the AI fleet on Jan 15, 2008 and was used for international as well as domestic purposes.
Aircraft Commander Captain Z. Glusica, a British national of Serbian origin, was an experienced pilot who had to his credit more than 10,200 flying hours. His assistant Captain H. S. Ahluwalia had more than 3,600 flying hours to his credit. Both were extremely familiar with Bajpe airport’s table-top runway. Ahluwalia had made 66 landings at that runway, while Glusica had made 19 landings.
The Airports Authority of India said that the Mangalore International Airport is a licensed airport featuring a runway of length 2,450m in addition to a runway and safety area of 90m. It has been functional since 2006, said AAI, adding that the Instrument Landing System (ILS) at the Mangalore International Airport was functioning normally.
The pilots of the ill-fated aircraft had not communicated any problem. The aircraft was following ILS approach to land on runway 24, and the pilot reported to ATC that it was established on ILS approach at about 16kms from touchdown, stated AAI.
At about 6m from touchdown, the aircraft was cleared for landing. The aircraft, however, touched runway 24 slightly off point, overshot the runway, and plunged to a fiery end into the valley, killing most of its passengers and crew.
AAI reports that the visibility was 6kms and the wind was calm. There was hardly any rain.