Last evening, at 7.40 pm, an Air India Express flight carrying 190 people from Dubai attempted to make a landing on the runway at Kerala’s Kozhikode airport. In an unfortunate turn of events owing majorly to the incessant rains, the plane skidded off the runway and fell into a 35-feet valley, ultimately splitting into two.
This horrific incident shocked people in the state and across the country, who could only hope and pray for the safety of the passengers. The Malappuram District Collector informed that the death toll is 18 currently. Captain Deepak Sathe and First Officer Akhilesh Kumar were among those who lost their lives in the tragic crash.
Scores of people from the neighbouring areas braved the rains and the fear of COVID-19 to reach the site. These locals helped in the evacuation of the passengers in less than two hours.
The residents mainly were from neighbouring areas like Karipur and Kondotty in the Malappuram district. Manan* (name changed on request), a resident of Kondotty recalls the loud sound that he heard around 7.40 pm last evening.
“Initially when we heard the loud sound, we thought that perhaps it could have been a major landslide,” says the 22-year-old student. His assumption is justified considering it had been pouring heavily for the past two days. Many areas in the state have been flooded and dozens have been feared dead in resultant landslides.
“The Kozhikode airport is basically on a tabletop hill and where we live is just the hill next to it. At around 8 pm, it was confirmed that a crash had taken place. Immediately my friends and I took out our vehicles and rushed to the site,” says Manan.
Malappuram collector has informed that rescue operations at site have been completed. All have been transferred to hospitals in Malappuram & Kozhikode:Kerala CM
Directorate General of Civil Aviation says death toll in the flight crash landing incident is at 16.(Pic source:NDRF) pic.twitter.com/CFmTDhyXxP
— ANI (@ANI) August 7, 2020
He shares that by the time they reached the crash site, he was aware that the pilots had been declared dead. Police, fire and rescue personnel reached the site in about half an hour, informs Manan.
“But you should have been there to see how people helped out. Those who arrived took their own vehicles and helped the injured passengers reach private hospitals as well as the Government Medical College in Manjeri,” he informs.
The CM of Kerala and several people on Twitter also took to applauding the local’s spirit who came for the rescue mission despite the heavy rains.
Yesterday, the fast response of local people and officials made all the difference. They braved bad weather and COVID fears to rescue their fellow beings. The long queues of people who wanted to donate blood was just one example.
— Pinarayi Vijayan (@vijayanpinarayi) August 8, 2020
Flights that were scheduled to land at Karippur Airport will now land at Kannur Airport which is 128kms away. Volunteers of @dyfikerala_ is making arrangements for food at the airport.#KozhikodeAirCrash pic.twitter.com/ByH7VXiYL0
— Elina 🌹 (@LawyerInBaking) August 7, 2020
Several news reports and tweets with pictures also confirmed that after the hospitals, local blood banks and the district collector spread the word for the requirement of blood, people began queuing up to donate. This has been helpful in treating especially those patients with rare blood types.
A heartening image to end this sad day with. People queuing up outside a blood bank in Kozhikode, Kerala, way past midnight, to donate blood to those injured in the aircraft crash. No amount of hatred can kill the humanity in our hearts ❤️ @vijayanpinarayi @dhanyarajendran pic.twitter.com/lUJ1vC3CDW
— Rifai Kodippady (@RifaiKodippady) August 7, 2020
Manan informs that now he would be in a 14-day home quarantine mandated by the authorities for those who visited the site of the crash. He says that this doesn’t bother him one bit because the quick response of people on the site helped ensure safety for many.
“I am just glad that we could evacuate so many people quickly because there was a possibility of an explosion. The timely intervention really helped manage the situation,” he says.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)