The death toll from the Air India Express plane crash has risen to 18.

Indian authorities on Saturday raised the death toll to 18 in the crash of a repatriation plane flying from Dubai to the southern city of Kozhikode, which went off the runway on landing, while dozens of passengers remain in hospital.

“Unfortunately, 18 people, including the two pilots, have lost their lives. 127 people are still in hospitals,” Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri told the local agency ANI.

The minister reported on Twitter from the scene of the incident that the plane’s black boxes have been recovered.

Abdul Karim, the police superintendent of the city of Mallapuram, near Kozhikode International Airport and where some of the injured were taken, told Efe that at least 18 injured remain in critical condition.

The incident took place on Friday afternoon, when the Boeing 737-800 of the low-cost company Air India Express, a subsidiary of the state-owned Air India, went off the runway when it landed at Kozhikode airport.

The plane was carrying 190 people including 174 adult passengers and 10 minors.

The plane, which had twice tried to land unsuccessfully, went over the runway due to heavy rain and plunged into a slope before splitting in two.

The flight was part of the Vande Bharat repatriation programme, which is responsible for facilitating the return to India of its nationals stranded abroad because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The last major air accident in India took place in 2010 when a Boeing 737 also of Air India Express crashed at Mangalore airport in southwest India, killing 158 out of 166 passengers on board.

By EFE