Panaji: A Jet Airways flight with 161 people on board veered off the runway at an airport in Goa while aligning for take off to Mumbai early Tuesday, with 12 passengers suffering injuries during the evacuation.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is probing the incident which took place at around 5 am at the Dabolim International Airport.
The Navy said its prompt response in rescuing passengers onboard the flight averted the incident from turning into a "catastrophe".
The incident occurred when Jet Airways Goa-Mumbai (9W 2374), which had arrived from Dubai, was about to take off.
When the evacuation was on, the aircraft tilted forward, an eyewitness said, triggering panic among passengers.
"When people were getting down the plane, it suddenly tilted forward triggering panic and chaos," a passenger told reporters at Chicalim Cottage Hospital in Vasco.
Besides 154 passengers, there were seven crew members on board.
Notably, the Goa airport is located in the Indian Navy's facility, INS Hansa in Vasco town, nearly 25 km from here. The runway was made available for flight operations at 9 am, hours before the initial deadline of 12.30 pm.
A Naval spokespersons said, "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".
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 assessed by a team of Indian Navy and Airport Authority of India officials," the spokesperson said.
"There was a 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 the 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 aircraft will take off later during the day.
Jet Airways said the airline has deployed its wide-body B777 with a capacity to seat 346 guests to facilitate the travel of its guests between Mumbai and Goa.
"Jet Airways is fully cooperating with the various authorities, including the DGCA and AAIB, for investigation into the incident," a spokesperson said.
Here is the latest statement of the Jet Airways:
Latest Update for our flight 9W 2374, Goa-Mumbai: pic.twitter.com/xTi7rQQnk2
— Jet Airways (@jetairways) December 27, 2016