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158 die in India plane crash


5/24/2010

More than 150 people have died after an Air India Express plane crashed at Mangalore airport, in India's Karnataka state, on Saturday. The Boeing 737-800 had been carrying 160 passengers and six crew from Dubai when it crashed at the southern Indian city at just after 6am local time. It is believed that the plane overshot the runway on landing, and plunged down a hillside into a forested valley before breaking up and bursting into flames. 158 of those on board are thought to have died.

Rain was reported at the airport at the time of the crash, but it is not clear whether this was a causative factor. According to local media, the country’s Civil Aviation Minister, Praful Patel, has hinted that pilot error may have been to blame. He was reported saying that the plane had landed “beyond the threshold” of the runway, which meant that it did not have time to stop before the end of the tarmac. Both the pilot and co-pilot are among the dead, but the cockpit voice recorders have been located.

Mangalore airport lies on top of a hill with steep drops at the end of its runways, making it a tricky landing.The airport has been criticised for having insufficient run-off areas, following the lengthening of runways in 2006. Two investigations have been launched into the crash, which is India’s first fatal air crash since 2000.

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