A technician working for Air India has died after being sucked into a jet engine as the plane pushed back for take-off at Mumbai airport, the airline and reports said.

The freak accident happened on Wednesday evening when the co-pilot of flight AI 619 to Hyderabad in India's south mistook a signal from ground staff and started the engine.

It sucked in Ravi Subramanian, who was standing close by, the Press Trust of India reported, quoting anonymous sources at Air India, the Asian giant's national carrier.

The airline wrote on its official Twitter handle that one of its technicians had "died in a mishap during pushback of flight AI 619", without specifying exactly what happened.

Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 18px; line-height: 28.8px; letter-spacing: 0.01em; background-color: rgb(255, 255, 255);">"The incident is being investigated. Our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family," said the tweet.

Air India's chairman and managing director Ashwani Lohani said "we are deeply saddened & regret the tragic incident" at Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji airport, according to the post late on Wednesday.

The state-run carrier, which has not reported an annual profit since 2007, has been hit by a string of technical glitches and other embarrassing incidents, including staff turning up late for flights.

In April, the airline made headlines when it had to ground two of its pilots after a fight erupted between the pair just before takeoff.

Wednesday's incident comes a week after a turboprop plane belonging to budget carrier SpiceJet hit a group of wild boars and skidded as it came into land at Jabalpur airport in central India.

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