CHENNAI: In a freak incident, a speeding car that had the misfortune of blowing a tyre and hitting a sidewalk at the rate of knots simultaneously, landed up on it's roof on the flyover inside the Chennai Airport on Sunday. It could have been a bigger catastrophe, if the car hadn't smashed into a lampost on the elevated flyover on the side where passengers alight - if it had been closer to the other side, it could have rammed the railing and toppled over to the ground level - where thousands of passengers mill around looking for taxis, some 50 feet below.
Airport sources related how the Maruti Suzuki Swift Dzire sedan (TN 09 B 8875) had dropped off a passenger at the domestic departure terminal and had been driving along the flyover towards the exit ramp, when the tyre blew, "He was driving between the international and domestic terminals when there was a large bursting sound and then a crash. When people came out to see, the car was almost against the railing and the driving was clambering out through the window space," said a source. It was 10.15 am on Sunday and the morning rush had just subsided.
The sight of a car on it's back, frighteningly close to the railing, caused a lot of drama at the airport as passengers and staff went to see what was happening. Airports Authority of India (AAI) terminal staff and the police on duty immediately helped the driver, Venkat Verdhan (39), from Mambalam, and got him to the medical centre inside, "He had some trauma to the back and a few scratched but largely he is safe. The car and the lampost are rather badly damaged," said an AAI official on duty. A damage assessment report is being drawn up with accounts from all parties involved, he added.
Airport Director Deepak Shastri said that the lane had been cordoned off and traffic was normal, "It was a freak incident and not much damage has occurred. We have assessed what has happened and realize that it was the flat tyre and the fact that he hit some elevated obstruction that caused this incident," he explained. The damage will have to be offset by the maintenance providers or through penalty on the driver, he added.
The elevated driveway that cars use to drop departing passengers off is nearly 600 metres long and has close to 6 large speed breakers on it - to prevent drivers from speeding along. Speeding used to be a huge concern when cars needed to exit the airport 5 minutes after entering to avoid the Rs 130 rupee toll charge, but that has reduced drastically since the time limit was stretched to 10 minutes last year. "Speeding on those large rumblers is still a concern because things like this can happen. We have to set up some barricades on the driveway soon," said a senior police official from the Airport S2 Police Station.
The driver and his brother who were at the scene blamed an anomaly in the road for the incident, "It wasn't just the flat tyre," they insisted weakly. The concrete road, however, is smooth and has nary a fissure, let alone a large bump.