Hope-Filled Migrant Workers Returning Home Crash Land in Kozhikode
A Dubai-Calicut Vande Bharat Mission flight, which crash-landed on the Calicut tabletop runaway claimed 19 lives, including those of the pilot and the co-pilot. The mishap occurred on August 07 at 7:41 pm. The flight was carrying 26 migrant workers who were returning due to job loss.
The Air India Express X 1134 Boeing 737 had overshot the runway, broke into two parts, and fell into a 30 feet valley while landing.
Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) told news agency ANI that the Dubai-Kozhikode aircraft was at "full speed" while landing at the Karipur Airport and overshot the runway.
The passenger manifest in possession with The Lede reveals that 26 migrants on board had mentioned “Loss of Employment” as a reason to return in the flight.
At the time of publication of this report, it was not clear whether there are any migrant workers on the victims' list.
Vande Bharat Mission was initiated on May 07 to bring back Indians stranded abroad following the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. More than 8.14 lakh stranded Indians have returned through various means under the Mission, out of which more than 2.7 lakh returned via flights from 53 countries.
The ill-fated Dubai-Calicut flight was in the fifth phase of the Vande Bharat Mission.
Migrant workers are being laid off in large numbers due to the COVID-19 induced economic crisis in the Arab Gulf countries. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) had said in June that around six million job loss will occur in the Middle East itself. A survey by Dubai Chamber had said in May that 70% of Dubai companies expect to go out of business within six months due to the pandemic.
Every passenger has to fill out a column on the reason for going back to India. In this, one worker has mentioned that he does not have a job or a salary, so he wants to go back home. Another worker has mentioned that ‘he is feeling unwell’ because of the salary cut and wants to meet his family in Kerala.
According to hospital and airport sources, nine of the 19 who died in the accident have been identified as Saheer Sayeed, 36, from Tirur in Malappuram, Mohammed Riyas, 35, from Palakkad, Lailabi KV, 51, from Edappal in Malappuram, Janaki, 54, from Balussery in Kozhikode, Ayana Ravisankar, 4, Sharafudeen from Pilassery in Kozhikode, and Rajeevan from Cherakkaparamba in Malappuram, 10-month-old Afsal Muhammed from Vellamadukunnu, and a 45-year-old woman.
The injured have been taken to various hospitals in Malappuram and Kozhikode districts. And out of the 123 admitted in hospitals in the city, the condition of a few are reportedly serious.
Most of those in the flight have also not been tested for COVID-19 before boarding the flight. This has led to worries over rescue and relief workers as well as locals possibly being exposed to the virus from passengers who may have carried it from abroad.
While Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri is on his way to Kozhikode, the Minister of State for External Affairs has already arrived at the city to coordinate the rescue operations and take stock of the situation.
Additionally, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his ministers are also heading to Kozhikode.
Karipur airport has a tabletop runway. This type of runway creates an optical illusion that requires a very precise approach by the pilot.
The airport is located on a hill, and several international airlines had stopped flying bigger aircraft including Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 jets into Kozhikode due to safety issues over the length of the runway.
Air safety expert Captain Mohan Ranganathan had said in a report around nine years ago that Calicut airport was not safe for landings.
The report had warned that the hazard posed "of undershooting and overshooting, in particular, can lead to grave situations."