Saturday 22 May 2010

Indian air crashes

There appear to be just 7 survivors from the Air India Express air crash at Mangalore in the south of the country, meaning that 159 passengers and crew have been killed. The Boeing 737 arriving from Dubai overshot the runway and burst into flames in a wooded area beyond.

It is not clear what caused the accident. Light rain was falling, but the authorities say visibility was satisfactory, and there was no distress call from the pilot. However, some survivors said they thought they heard a sound like a tyre bursting before the crash. The airport is on a hilltop and can present problems for pilots.

India’s worst ever air crash, and the deadliest mid-air collision in history, happened on November 12, 1996 over the town of Charkhi Dadri, near Delhi. A Saudi Arabian Airlines Boeing 747 and a Kazakhstan Airlines Ilyushin Il-76 collided killing all 312 passengers and crew on the jumbo and the 38 people on the Ilyushin.

The official inquiry blamed the Kazakh pilot saying that he had failed to follow air traffic instructions, and suggesting that the crew’s poor command of English might be a factor. The Saudi pilot was praised by villagers who said he had managed to steer his stricken aircraft away from their homes so that it crashed in an empty field.

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