MALAPPURAM: The condition of at least 14 passengers of the ill-fated Air India Express flight that crashed while attempting to land at the Karipur airport in Kerala remains critical,

Malappuram district

collector K Gopalakrishnan said on Sunday.

Eighteen people, including the pilot and co-pilot of the

AIE flight

from Dubai, lost their lives when the plane overshot the tabletop runway at the airport while landing in heavy rains and fell into a valley 35 feet below and broke into two portions on Friday night.

“Till now, 49 people have been discharged from various hospitals in Malappuram and Kozhikode. The condition of 14 people remains critical,” Gopalakrishnan told news agency PTI.

The remaining 109 people are under treatment at different hospitals.

Meanwhile, investigators have started examining the black box of the Boeing-737 to determine the exact cause of the crash.

The Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau has initiated an investigation with the support of Flight Safety Officials and it will take some time before it is completed, the airline said.

Arun Kumar, head of Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), said the country would open the recovered transcripts to international investigators, as well as manufacturer Boeing.

“Only after conducting a thorough and unbiased probe can we tell what exactly happened,” Kumar said.

The 2,700 metre runway at the airport is known as a “table-top”, an aviation term for runways with steep drops at one or both ends.

They leave little room for error should a pilot overshoot the runway, either through human error or mechanical failure.

An air traffic control official familiar with the crash confirmed this version of events, adding it is unusual to attempt a landing at the airport with a tailwind, which is typically used for takeoffs.

“The length of the runway in


is around 2,700 metres and the plane touched the ground after crossing 1,000 metres of the length, leaving less room to bring the aircraft to a halt,” the official, who declined to be named as he is not authorised to speak to the media, told Reuters.

“It was windy and rainy and the runway surface was wet. In such instances the weather is dynamic.”

“An aircraft typically lands and departs in a headwind as a tailwind increases the plane’s speed.”

A spokesman for Air India did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company has already said it will pay compensation to the families of the deceased.

The mortal remains of the 16 passengers, who lost their lives in the plane crash, have been handed over to their families.

The bodies of the pilot and co-pilot of the flight were also handed over to their families on Saturday.

The remains of co-pilot Akhilesh Kumar were cremated on Sunday with attendance from all family members as well as officials of Air India and Air India Express at Mathura, his hometown, Air India said.

In Video:TOI Daily: What caused the Air India Express crash? Black box retrieved, probe begins

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