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An Indian jetliner trying to land during a torrential downpour in southern India on Friday night skidded off a slick runway, crashed into a wall, tumbled into a valley and split in half, killing at least 17 people and injuring scores.

The Air India Express Boeing 737 was a special repatriation flight carrying more than 180 passengers from Dubai to Kozhikode, a city along India’s southwestern coast in Kerala State.

Many aboard were Indians who had been stranded in the Persian Gulf during the coronavirus pandemic and had been waiting for months to return home.

Indian media showed injured passengers lying on their backs in the hallways of a hospital, transported there by emergency workers in a drenching rain. According to news reports, as many as 120 people had been injured.

Air India Express said in a bulletin posted on its Twitter account that 17 people were killed, including the two pilots. The captain of the flight was described by Indian news media as a decorated former military officer who had served as a test pilot for the Indian Air Force.

All week in Kerala the monsoon rains have been pouring down. At least 15 people were killed by a massive landslide in the state earlier on Friday, when a hillside of rock and sludge crashed into a workers’ hostel on a tea plantation.

The weather had been so bad that the India Meteorological Department had declared a red alert in three of Kerala’s districts, including the area where the crash happened.

“There is no doubt that extreme weather conditions contributed to this,” Shashi Tharoor, a prominent member of Parliament from Kerala, said in a televised interview. “During our monsoons, things can be very, very difficult.”

Aviation experts said that it was hard to slow a plane on a slick, wet runway. According to a statement by Air India Express, the plane “overshot” the runway, which was on a flat hilltop, with deep gorges on either end.

Pilots call such landing areas “tabletop” runways. And the runway at the Kozhikode airport has a history of safety concerns.

Several international airlines had stopped flying bigger aircraft, including Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 jets, into Kozhikode because of the runway’s length, which raised the risk that pilots might lack enough landing space to stop an aircraft from plunging off the end. India’s NDTV channel said that of all four airports in Kerala, Kozhikode has the shortest runway.

Indian media showed images of the jetliner’s fuselage cracked in half but there appeared to be no fire. The plane’s nose had been badly smashed and wet chunks of debris lay scattered over a grassy field.

Air India Express said that there were 184 passengers, including 10 infants, aboard, along with four cabin crew members and two pilots.

The plane skidded off the runway around 7:40 p.m. Rescue crews were still dousing the plane with water more than an hour later. Huge crowds surrounded the wreckage as injured passengers were pulled out, their eyes dazed, their faces wet. The rain continued to pelt down.

“Considering the severity of the accident, the loss of life was limited,” M.B. Rajesh, a former member of Parliament from Kerala, told the NDTV news channel. “That is a relief.”

He said that all passengers had been evacuated by 9:15 p.m.

Flight radar suggested the plane may have circled the airport before trying to land. Survivors told local news media that the aircraft bounced up and down many times before landing.

Every year, a large number of flights to Saudi Arabia for the hajj pilgrimage use the Kozhikode airport, which supports a considerable number of international flights, particularly to the Gulf countries. This year, though, Saudi Arabia has strictly limited attendance to the hajj because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The airport has more international flights than domestic. It has a long runway,” Mr. Tharoor said.

In 2010, a similar but much more tragic accident happened at another hilltop airport just 150 miles up Kerala’s coast, in Mangalore. An Air India Express flight from Dubai carrying 166 people skidded off the runway, tumbled into a valley and burst into flames. The plane in that crash was also a Boeing 737, and 158 people died.

Like many countries, India has severely cut back on international air operations during the pandemic. But, at the same time, it has initiated an enormous rescue operation to bring home stranded Indians using its national carrier, Air India, its naval ships and countless clerks, health workers, police officers, sailors and diplomats. (Air India Express is a subsidiary of Air India.)

More Indians have been stranded in Gulf countries than in any other region of the world and the Indian embassies organizing the flights have given priority to citizens with medical emergencies, pregnant women, students and people who have lost their jobs.

Mr. Tharoor said that many Indians on the flight Friday night had been anxious to come home.

“And now for this to happen?” he said. “It’s obviously shaken every soul in Kerala to the core.”

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