The Catholic Bishops Conference of India has joined others to condole the death of 158 people, mostly migrant workers from Dubai, who died when their Air India Express crashed on landing at Mangalore airport, a Christian stronghold region in western India.
The Boeing 737 flight, carrying 160 passengers and six crew members, overshot the runway on its final approach. Media quoted some of the eight survivors saying the plane split into two as it fell into a gorge. Two of the eight survivors said they jumped out seconds before the flight exploded.
Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, in a message said he received the news of the tragedy “with great sadness” and “prayed at my Eucharistic celebration for the victims and their families.
“The Indian Church “grieves over this great loss of life in the air tragedy. We are aware that words cannot take away the grief, sorrow and pain, but we offer our prayers and solidarity to the families,” his message to AisaNews said.
The Indian Church prays that those who have survived this ordeal may soon recover. The Church extends all support-emotional, spiritual and financial-to the survivors to enable them to cope and recover, and to help them in all ways possible, it added.
The cardinal prayed for the “outpouring of the Holy Spirit” on the families so that they be consoled in their “sufferings and pain over the loss of their loved ones.”
Mangalore International Airport sits on top of a hill, near the town of Bajpe. Some experts consider it difficult for landing. In the past ten years, the overall safety record of India’s airline industry has generally been good.