All Kerala plane crash rescuers to be tested for COVID-19

A senior officer said the CISF has information that two passengers have tested positive for COVID-19

Air India, crash
A total of 184 passengers and six crew members were on board Flight 1344 that took off from Dubai and crashed upon landing in Kozhikode

At least two passengers of the Air India Express flight that crashed at Kerala’s Kozhikode airport on Friday (August 8), have tested positive for COVID-19. All those who had taken part in the rescue operation have been asked to go into quarantine. All of them will be tested for COVID-19 in view of the infections reported among the passengers.

At least 18 people on board the flight, including the two pilots, died in the incident, while the four crew members are safe. The flight was part of India’s Vande Bharat mission, and had skidded while landing at the tabletop runway at 7:41 pm on Friday.

The Central Industrial Security Forces (CISF), which provides counter-terrorist cover to the Kozhikode airport, said it was the “first responder” to rescue passengers as its Assistant Sub Inspector Ajit Singh was on runway patrol when the flight from Dubai carrying 190 people overshot the table top runway, fell into a 35-foot valley and broke into two pieces.

“We are identifying our personnel, who rescued the passengers who have tested positive for coronavirus,” CISF Special Director General (Airports) MA Ganapathy said. Another senior officer said the force has information that two passengers have tested positive for COVID-19. Around 50 CISF personnel, involved in the rescue operation, and their family members have been asked to quarantine themselves, he said. The force will also conduct COVID-19 tests of all those who were exposed, the officer said.

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Another officer said the rescuers of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and other airport officials have been asked to go into self-quarantine in view of the COVID-19 positive report of some passengers.

Related news: The Kozhikode tragedy: From the eyes of a survivor, a rescuer

Earlier, the Kerala health department had also asked all those who were involved in the rescue operation to go into quarantine. “As a precautionary measure, all those who have participated in the rescue operation should go under self-quarantine. COVID tests of all of them will be done,” state Health Minister KK Shailaja had said.

ASI Singh, who saw the crash first, had immediately alerted his control room, which later informed the airport authorities and rescue teams from the CISF, airport authority, fire and police were subsequently rushed to the spot. The CISF was inducted at this airport in 2001-2002 and has a strength of about 350 personnel, an official said.

(With inputs from agencies)

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