New Delhi: Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Saturday visited the site of last evening’s Air India Express flight crash in Kerala’s Kozhikode. Later, addressing a press conference, he hailed the two pilots of the ill-fated Dubai-Kozhikode flight, also announcing an interim compensation of Rs ten lakh to the families of each of the deceased. Also Read - Air India Plane Crash 2020: Who Witnessed The Mishap First? What Exactly Happened When Flight No IX-334 Skidded Off Runway

On reaching the site at the Kozhikode International Airport, the minister tweeted: “Reached Kozhikode to take stock of the status and implementation of relief measures after the air accident last evening. Will hold consultations with senior civil aviation officials and professionals”.

“Digital Flight Data Recorder and Cockpit Voice Recorder of the ill-fated aircraft have been retrieved. Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) is conducting investigations,” he added.

Later, addressing a press conference, the minister remarked that fortunately, in this case, the doomed aircraft didn’t catch fire unlike in Mangalore, where, on May 22, 2010, another Air India Express flight, also from Dubai, had crashed in near-identical similar circumstances.

Notably, the Kozhikode tragedy is India’s worst aviation disaster in a decade after the aforementioned Mangalore crash.

“We were fortunate that unlike the tragic accident at Mangaluru Airport ten years ago, where the aircraft caught fire, here preventive action minimised the loss of lives”, he said.

He further announced an interim compensation of Rs ten lakh to the families of the each of the deceased-18 thus far, including the two pilots-Rs two lakh for those seriously injured and Rs 50,000 for those who sustained minor injuries.

The Civil Aviation Minister also praised the two pilots-Captain Deepak Sathe and First Officer Akhilesh Kumar.

He further noted that the Captain Sathe, a retired Wing Commander from the Indian Air Force (IAF), had already landed at the same runway, a tabletop one, 27 times, including several times this year itself.

“The aircraft was being captained and operated by one of our most experienced and distinguished commanders, Captain Deepak Sathe. In fact, he had landed on this airfield as many as 27 times, including this year”, he remarked.

Finally, the minister requested the media to not indulge in any ‘speculative reporting’, and let the investigation teams in the ground do their job.