The Kerala government is making arrangements to bring back the bodies of nearly 50 Malayalis killed in the Air India Express plane crash in Mangalore, state Home Minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan said on Saturday.
"Bodies of the passengers have to be identified. It is a big challenge as all of them are charred beyond recognition. All arrangements have been made to take the bodies to their respective (native) places," the minister told reporters here.
At least 159 people were killed when Air India Express Flight IX812 from Dubai overshot the runway after landing at the Mangalore airport early Saturday and caught fire as it crashed into a forested gorge.
Balakrishnan also offered all assistance to the passengers injured in the accident.
"Kerala will announce financial assistance to the injured and the families of the victims after the next cabinet meeting," Balakrishnan said, adding the state government would open a control room in Mangalore.
Earlier in the day, Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan reached Mangalore with three of his ministerial colleagues, Balakrishnan, Health Minister P.K. Sreemathi and Devaswom Minister Kadannappilli Ramachandran and P. Karunakaran, the MP from Kasargod that neighbours Mangalore.
"It is a shocking incident. The state government will give all possible help to the victims and their families," the chief minister said.
"It is not ascertained that how many Malayalis died in the crash. According to our information, there were at least 50 passengers from Kerala on the flight," Karunakaran said, adding most of the charred bodies could not be identified.
Karunakaran said that many of the Malayalis on board were from the north Kerala districts of Kasargod and Kannur.
Karunakaran, who is also deputy leader of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) in the Lok Sabha, expressed satisfaction over the rescue and relief efforts being made by central and Karnataka governments.