An Air India plane has crashed with 191 passengers on board, killing at least 18 people, including both pilots.
The plane was travelling from Dubai to Calicut, also known as Kozhikode, in Kerala, India, when it crashed near the runway.
It reportedly skidded off the runway at Calicut International Airport and plunged into a valley.
At least 123 people have been injured, according to local police.
Firefighters and ambulances have rushed to the scene, with paramedics ferrying the injured to local hospitals.
The plane had 10 children on board when it overshot the runway.
The aircraft’s pilot Deepak Vasant Sathe previously served as an accomplished fighter pilot in the Indian Air Force.
Local lawmaker MK Raghavan told the BBC that at least 17 people had died in the crash.
Speaking about today’s disaster, Hardeep Singh Puri, India’s minister for civil aviation, tweeted: “Deeply anguished & distressed at the air accident in Kozhikode.
“The @FlyWithIX flight number AXB-1344 on its way from Dubai to Kozhikode with 191 persons on board, overshot the runway in rainy conditions & went down 35 ft. into a slope before breaking up into two pieces.
“We are in touch with local authorities. State police have reported 11 deaths. Relief teams from Air India & AAI are being immediately dispatched from Delhi & Mumbai. All efforts being made to help passengers. A formal enquiry will be conducted by AAIB.”
The plane’s pilot and the co-pilot were killed in the accident, K Gopalakrishnan, chief of the Malappuram district in the southern state of Kerala, told Reuters.
“All passengers have been admitted to various hospitals, and they are also being tested for Covid-19,” Gopalakrishnan said, adding autopsy of the bodies would be carried out according to the Covid-19 protocol.
Captain Deepak Vasant Sathe served in the air force for 22 years before retiring in 2003 and moving into commercial aviation, according to The News Minute.
Shocking pictures show the plane broken in half, with the front end of the aircraft separate from the main body.
The aircraft slid off the runway and fell 35ft amid heavy rainfall at around 7pm local time, reports say.
India’s monsoon season, which takes place from June to September, is currently reaching its peak.
Calicut International Airport has a tabletop runway – a type of landing strip with steep banks around it.
The runway is around 2,700m long, the shortest of the four runways in Kerala, according to The Hindu.
This was India’s worst passenger aircraft accident since 2010.