On Saturday night, Mohammed Nijas flew to the same Calicut International Airport, where his family landed into a tragic accident a day before, that killed his wife Sahira Banu and 10-month old son, Asim Mohammed.
Nijas’s two other children, Ihan Muhammed (8) and Mariam Binth Mohammed (4) survived the accident with minor injuries.
The Air India Express plane from Dubai, on Friday night, overshot the runway in the second attempt to land and plunged into the valley. 190 people were on the flight.
Eighteen, including both pilots, died in the crash with 16 people severely injured. Karipur plane crash became the worst passenger aircraft accident since 2010.
“It was a shock, there was no announcement of any sort to anticipate”, says Mohammed Ali, a passenger onboard during the accident. Ali was seated near the emergency exit along with friends from work, returning home after losing their job due to pandemic.
The tragic incident became an added calamity in the Malabar, Northern Kerala, facing flood and surge in coronavirus cases. Kozhikode is under red alert in fear of very heavy rainfall.
25-year-old Manal Ahmed, who died in the crash, was returning home for pregnancy care. Married to Athif Muhammad last year, Manal shifted to Abu Dhabi a few months ago but decided to come home parental care, a relative told Maktoob.
The flight was part of Vande Bharat mission, repatriating Indians stranded in Dubai due to the coronavirus pandemic.
At least 12 passengers were travelling due to medical emergency. Some 20 of job loss, reads the list from officials.
“Everyone was in a hurry to book tickets after the UAE government announced to revoke relaxation for stranded visitors,” says Meharban who was fortunate, making a last-minute decision, to book the next flight for his family.
Sudheer Variyath, who died in the crash was tested coronavirus positive on Saturday denying family to acquire the mortal remains for funeral rituals.
“He was cured and tested negative before he boarded the flight. It must be a mistake of the antigen test,” lamented Sudheer’s relative. Sudheer’s wife Sunitha and relatives were initially stopped from seeing the body in fear that emotions would override the COVID-9 guidelines.
later Sunitha was given chance due to recommendation from state minister KT Jaleel. Sudheer, the father of two, was forced to return after losing his job during the pandemic crisis.
Kerala Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan appreciated the efforts of locals of Malappuram and Kozhikode in swift rescue which reduced the fatality.
Locals in Karipur, Malappuram rescued 70% of the victims and rushed to hospitals, as per witness account. Fear of fire or COVID-19 spread didn’t was rubbished by locals who swing into action during the heavy rain.
“All of us are going for quarantine as per instructions from the government,” Shahul Hameed wrote on Facebook. Hameed claims he was involved in rescuing 37 passengers in the crashed flight.
The visuals of private vehicle rallying to transport patients to hospitals are winning hearts in social media. Malappuram, a Muslim dominated district have been vilified by the right-wing groups in India.
When most of the injured were taken to hospitals in Kozhikode, where dozens arrived on request of blood.
“We have been here since last night, the hurdle of sitting in quarantine has not anyone pull out to volunteer,” says Noushad from White Guard, a rescue and relief group.
“People kept arriving even after midnight,” he adds.
With the sudden shutdown of Calicut Airport, flights were landed in Kannur International Airport where locals arranged facilities for the passengers who landed at an unexpected place at late hours. Cabs and food were arranged amidst the grim situation by locals of Mattanur.