Close shave for 143 as plane skids off runway | india | Hindustan Times
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Close shave for 143 as plane skids off runway

india Updated: Aug 30, 2011 01:07 IST
HT Correspondent

A Gulf Air plane from Bahrain with 143 people on board veered off the runway while landing at the Kochi airport amid heavy rains on Monday, injuring seven passengers.

The Airbus A-320, with six crew members, damaged its nose wheel and a wing as it slid into a muddy area, officials said.

As soon as the plane came to a halt, some passengers jumped out of the emergency window in panic even before the ladder was brought in, injuring themselves.

Initial reports suggest bad weather caused the incident. Heavy rains and winds have been lashing Kochi, around 175 km from here, since Sunday night.

"The report that has come to me is that it is a difficult place (to land) though the runway is long enough. The rains and winds were there. Then, it landed and slipped," Union civil aviation minister Vayalar Ravi said.

At least 20 flights were cancelled and nine diverted to Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode airports as the runway was closed for the day for repair work.

"The incident happened at 3.55am. The pilot said he couldn't see the runway due to bad weather even when the aircraft was just 350-feet high," said VJ Kurian, managing director of Cochin International Airport Limited.

Director General of Civil Aviation EK Bharat Bhushan, the aviation regulator, ordered an inquiry.

"It was a miraculous escape. We all thought it would be another Mangalore-like crash," said Syed Muhamed, a passenger, who fractured his leg while jumping out.

Around 160 people were killed when Air India Express flight 812 from Dubai overshot the tabletop runway at the Mangalore airport and plunged off a cliff on May 22 last year.

"We could see fumes, but luckily the plane did not catch fire," said another passenger of the Gulf Air flight.