NEW DELHI: Oct 19, Reuter: An Indian Airlines plane crashed and burst into flames as it was coming in to land in Western India on Wednesday, killing 130 of the 135 people aboard, an airport official said.

Five people were pulled alive from the wreckage of the Boeing 737 which came down in a field several km (miles) from the runway at Ahmadabad City Airport, he said,

“Judging from the state of the plane which is completely destroyed, it must have burst into flames after the impact,” the airport duty officer said in a telephone interview.

“It is in several pieces, scattered all over the place.”

The official said three of the survivors were in critical condition in Ahmadabad’s civil hospital. The plane was flying from Bombay, a journey that normally takes 55 minutes.

Earlier reports spoke of four Passengers found alive, but an Indian Airlines spokesman in New Delhi confirmed that there were five survivors among the 129 passengers and six crew.

There were a number of foreign nationals aboard flight 1C113, said spokesman A.K. Vasisht, including two Japanese. All the survivors appeared to be Indians.

The crash, which happened shortly before 7 a.m. (0130 GMT), was the worst in the history of Indian Airlines, he said,

The previous worst accident was in October 1976 when 95 people died in a Caravelle crash at Bombay Airport, the United News of India News Agency reported.

Wednesday’s ill-fated Boeing 737 was one of the oldest in the Indian Airlines fleet.

Indian Airlines uses its 27 Boeing 737S as the workhorse of an extensive domestic and regional network which usually operates at near full capacity.

India’s civil aviation Minister Shivraj Patil and Indian Airlines managing Director Gerry Pais flew immediately to the crash site north of Ahmadabad the largest city in Gujarat state.

On hearing of the crash, relatives of passengers aboard the aircraft besieged Bombay’s Santa Cruz airport seeking information.

Sudha Shah, 50, broke down in tears when an official told her that her son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren died in the disaster.

Only relatives were allowed aboard a late morning flight to Ahmadabad, which is nearly 500 km (300 miles) north of Bombay Indian Airlines officials at the airport said the aircraft which crashed was captained by an experienced pilot, O.M Dalaya.

Article extracted from this publication >> October 21, 1988