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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

India plane crash kills scores; 8 survive Young girl pulled from debris alive after flight overshoots hilltop runway

NEW DELHI — Eight people escaped the crash of an Indian jetliner with 166 people on board that overshot a hilltop runway in southern India and plunged over a cliff, officials said. At least some of the survivors managed to jump from the wreckage just before it burst into flames.

Firefighters struggled to reach the twisted, smoking wreckage of the Boeing 737-800, which was scattered along the hillside of thick grass and trees just outside Mangalore's Bajpe airport.

But after the first few minutes, there were no more survivors to be found around what remained of the Air India Express flight from Dubai to this port city. Instead, scores of burned bodies were pulled from the blackened tangle of aircraft cables, twisted metal, charred trees and mud at the crash site. Many of the dead were strapped into their seats, their bodies burned beyond recognition.

There were unconfirmed reports the child was taken to a Mangalore hospital with severe burns, but the child's fate was not immediately known.

Air India, the country's national carrier, runs inexpensive flights under the Air India Express banner to Dubai and other Middle Eastern destinations where millions of Indians are employed.

Relatives of the victims, who had been waiting at the airport for the plane's arrival, stood near the wreckage weeping.

Ummer Farook Mohammed, a survivor burned on his face and hands, said it felt like a tire burst after the plane landed. "There was a loud bang, and the plane caught fire," he said.

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