The Air India Express plane that crashed at an airport in Kozhikode was bringing passengers from Dubai under the Vande Bharat Mission, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said on Saturday. 

“Under the Vande Bharat Mission, the flight was coming from Dubai carrying 190 passengers,” he said. “Pilot must have tried to bring the flight to the end of tabletop airport’s runway where it skidded due to slippery conditions owing to monsoon,” he added.

The Vande Bharat Mission was launched by the Indian government to bring back Indian citizens stranded abroad amidst the coronavirus-induced travel restrictions.

According to the Civil Aviation Ministry, the Boeing 737 aircraft on a flight from Dubai to Kozhikode overshot the runway at Kozhikode airport at 7:41 pm on Friday. The plane with 190 passengers onboard split into two.

18 persons, including the two pilots, were killed in the crash, Puri said, ANI reported. 127 people are at hospitals, while others have been released.

The minister further added that their “task would have been much more difficult if the plane had caught fire.” He is set to visit the site at the crash site, the minister added.