NEW DELHI, India -- The Indian government came under attack from opposition lawmakers over airline-safety standards Tuesday after the crash of a fourth jetliner in three years.
Authorities placed the final death toll at 55 in the Monday crash of the domestic airliner after two missing passengers were found alive.
Police Tuesday charged the pilot and his female co-pilot -- who both survived the crash -- under three sections of Indian criminal law for 'reckless flying.'
Co-pilot Manisha Mohan earlier told reporters, 'It is a miracle we survived.'
In a separate development, an Indian-built, Soviet-model MiG-21 crashed Tuesday while landing at the airport in the Sikh holy city of Amritsar, military officials said. The pilot survived.
In the Monday accident, an Indian Airlines Boeing 737 hit a truck while taking off from the western Indian city of Aurangabad and crashed 4 miles from the airport.
The national carrier said it was investigating why the 19-year- old jetliner failed to gain sufficient height and hit the truck on a highway just beyond the end of the runway.
The federal government, in a statement to Parliament, ruled out sabotage as a possible cause of the accident.
It said the aircraft was loaded almost close to the 43.5 metric ton permissible weight level.
The crash spurred criticism of safety standards in the Indian airline industry, with opposition lawmakers demanding the federal government tighten safety regulations.
A total of 23 civilian planes have crashed in India since 1966. In the worst-ever disaster, 131 people were killed in October 1988 when a Boeing 737 crashed in the western Indian city of Ahmedabad, north of Bombay.
This was the second crash of an airliner in India in less than four months. An Uzbek-owned, Soviet-built jetliner, packed to full capacity, crash-landed in thick winter fog in New Delhi last January but all 163 people on board survived miraculously.
'The (latest) crash has highlighted the disturbing record of air safety in the airline industry,' the Marxist Communist Party said.
Civil Aviation Minister Ghulam N. Azad said, 'Before the aircraft could gain enough height, its wheel gear hit a large truck loaded with cotton bales that was passing on the road close to the runway.'
The landing gear broke and the aircraft 'swerved to the left,' hitting a high-voltage electricity line and crashing in a field, Azad told Parliament.
Azad announced the government was grounding all Boeing 737s that were at least two-decade old. He did not say how many such jetliners were still in operation in India.
The minister said the government also intended to acquire extra land around some Indian airports to improve and extend runways.
Airline officials said 63 people survived the Monday crash.
Vasant Shinde, a local politician who was aboard the plane, said: 'As soon as the plane took off, I heard a big bang twice. Then everyone realized that instead of gaining altitude, the plane was hurtling down . .. Passengers started screaming.'
The last two passengers listed missing were found Tuesday to be 'alive and well,' Indian Airlines spokesman Ashok Sharma told United Press International.
The jetliner broke into three pieces after hitting the ground, with the rear section being consumed by a blaze. Several of the dead were charred beyond recognition, according to a state police spokesman in Bombay.
Most of the survivors, seated in the front section, said they escaped death because the stewardess quickly opened an emergency exit.
Azad said 12 passengers were hospitalized but three were later discharged.
Aurangabad, famous for its ancient caves, is 180 miles (300 km) northwest of Bombay. Aurangabad is in India's Maharashtra state, of which Bombay is the capital.
The dead included seven Westerners, including a French couple, Sharma said. Three other Westerners on board survived, he added.
The jetliner, with 112 passengers and a six-member crew, was on the last segment of a hopping flight from New Delhi to Bombay with three stops en route.
The flight covered popular tourist destinations in India, including Jaipur and Udaipur cities, renowned for their grand palaces.
The crash was the second incident involving an Indian Airlines plane in two days. Last weekend, a Boeing 737 on a flight to troubled Himalayan Kashmir state was hijacked by a Muslim gunman.
The militant, pretending to be disabled, concealed two pistols and ammunition inside his wooden crutches and leg plaster while boarding the flight in the Indian capital.
After holding the 140 people aboard hostage for more than 11 hours at Amritsar airport, the hijacker was killed in a commando operation.