India plane overshot a run way, 158 killed

New Delhi, India (CNN) — Rescue teams worked into the night
at the smoldering scene of an Air India plane crash that killed 158
people Saturday after the jet overshot a runway in southern India,
crashed into a ravine and burst into flames, officials said.


New Delhi, India (CNN) — Rescue teams worked into the night
at the smoldering scene of an Air India plane crash that killed 158
people Saturday after the jet overshot a runway in southern India,
crashed into a ravine and burst into flames, officials said.

As
darkness descended, workers used portable lights to pull charred bodies
out of the wreckage outside Mangalore International Airport. All but
three bodies have been recovered, said Jeeja Harisingh, head of fire and
emergency services.

Eight of the 166 people on board Air India
Flight IX-812 survived the crash and were taken to hospitals.

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The Boeing 737 took off from
Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and crashed while trying to make its
scheduled landing in Mangalore at 6:30 a.m. Saturday (9 p.m. ET Friday),
Air India spokesman Anup Srivastava said.

India’s civil aviation
minister Praful Patel said an investigation was underway but reasons
for the crash would not be known until the flight data and voice data
recorders have been recovered. Emergency workers were attempting to cool
the fiery wreckage Saturday night to keep the data intact.

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The Air India jet touched down on a
8,000-feet runway — 2,000 feet longer than the old runway and more than
sufficient for the Boeing 737, Patel said. The runway has been
operational since 2006.

Mangalore’s airport was "technically
certified" by the country’s civil aviation regulator.

Patel said
weather conditions were good — calm winds, no rain and good visibility
of six kilometers — and both the pilot and co-pilot were experienced
and had landed many times before at the Mangalore airport. They did not
report any problems before landing the plane, India’s civil aviation
ministry said.

However, the 90-meter spillover sand bed beyond
the runway was limited and was not able to stop the aircraft after it
overshot the tarmac, Patel said. Only the tail of the aircraft was left
intact.

Witnesses said the plane crashed through the hilltop
airport’s boundary wall and fell into a valley, CNN-IBN reported.

Survivors
told CNN’s sister network that they jumped out of the plane after it
crashed, seconds before it burst into flames.
 

Rescue workers
struggled to reach the crash site in a hilly wooded area, the network
said. Smoke from the plane also hampered rescue efforts and many of the
recovered bodies were badly burned, CNN-IBN reported.

Abhay
Pathak, a regional manager for Air India based in Dubai, said there were
160 passengers on board the plane and six crew members. Of the
passengers, 32 were women, 105 were men, 19 were children and four were
infants, he said.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced
financial aid for the victims Saturday and canceled scheduled events at
his residence to mark the end of his first year in office.

The
government said families would receive 200,000 rupees, or about $4,260,
for each dead passenger and 50,000 rupees, or $1,064, for every injured
passenger.

The airline has offered relatives of crash victims in
the United Arab Emirates free passage to India, Pathak said, and about
20 people have accepted the offer.

Boeing released a statement
saying the company would send a team to provide technical assistance to
Indian authorities during their investigation.

The city of
Mangalore, situated in the state of Karnataka along India’s Western
Ghats or hills, had just christened a new terminal. A week later, it was
marred by the crash, India’s worst aviation disaster in a decade. In
2000, an Alliance Air jet crashed while trying to land in the
northeastern city of Patna, killing about 60 people

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