MUMBAI • A Jet Airways Boeing 737 aircraft with 161 people on board veered off an airport runway in Goa shortly before take-off, crossing a field before spinning into a ditch at the side of a service road just before daybreak yesterday.
A dozen people were injured as the 154 passengers and seven crew members on the Mumbai-bound flight were evacuated, Jet Airways said in a statement. "The flight 9W 2374 from Goa to Mumbai skidded off the runway at Dabolim Airport this morning due to a technical glitch while aligning for take-off," the statement said.
December is the busiest month for Dabolim Airport, outside the state capital Panjim, as holidaymakers flock to Goa's palm-fringed beaches and exotic tourist markets during the winter season.
Television images showed injured victims lying on stretchers in darkness on the service road. Fire engines were parked near the plane, which appeared to have lost its front undercarriage and damaged a wing as it rested on its belly and engine casings.
Some passengers said they saw smoke in the cabin as the aircraft began taxiing on the runway.
"I fractured my leg," passenger Dinesh Kumar told Times Now TV channel. "The moment the plane started (moving) on the runway, it slipped into the nearby field and there was smoke inside the (plane)."
A Jet Airways spokesman said the carrier was looking into how the incident occurred. "It needs time for a proper investigation to go on and we are cooperating with the DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation)," she said.
The airline is India's second-largest passenger carrier.
In a separate incident at New Delhi airport, a Spicejet airplane was preparing to take off at the same time as an IndiGo flight was landing and headed to the runway's taxiway. The pilots avoided a collision and no one was injured, the two companies said in separate statements.
IndiGo and Spicejet said they were working with the authorities investigating the incident.
Air travel is surging in India, which is one of the world's fastest-growing economies.
Passenger numbers on domestic flights jumped 21 per cent in 2015 to more than 80 million. The government foresees that number will grow to 300 million by 2022.