PANAJI: Navy today said its prompt response in rescuing passengers on-board the Mumbai-bound flight that veered off the runway at Dabolim Airport in Goa early today, has averted the incident from turning into a "catastrophe".
"The Navy responded within 15-20 minutes and all the passengers were evacuated safely out of the aircraft. It would have turned into a catastrophe had the Navy not acted promptly," a Naval spokesperson said.
The incident took place at around 5 AM when Jet Airways flight 9W 2374 that had arrived from Dubai and was bound for Mumbai, skidded off the runway while aligning for the take-off. The Goa airport is located in Indian Navy's facility, INS Hansa in Vasco town, nearly 25 km from here.
As many as 15 passengers suffered "minor injuries and fractures" during the evacuation process, Navy sources said. "Few guests have sustained minor injuries during the evacuation process and medical assistance is being coordinated by the Jet Airways team and the airport authorities," the airlines said in a statement.
Beside 154 passengers, there were seven crew members on board. Meanwhile, the runway was made available for flight operations at 9 AM, hours before the initial deadline of 12.30 PM.
Soon after the incident, Navy officials had cordoned off the aircraft that had tilted towards its front end, while the passengers were being alighted. "After the passengers were evacuated, the operation to rescue the aircraft started. The damage to the runway was also accessed by a team of Indian Navy and Airport Authority of India officials," the spokesperson said.
"There was lot of muck on the runway as the flight was grounded on the sides of the runway," he said. During the rescue operation hours, a chartered flight was diverted to Bangalore, while an Oman Air flight that was scheduled to arrive in morning, was diverted to Mumbai, he said.
A total of seven scheduled flights that were to land at the airport were cancelled, while one scheduled flight and another chartered flight remained grounded. The two aircrafts will take off later during the day.