KOCHI: “Any attempt to reconstruct the last few minutes that I spent inside the Emirates aircraft and the minute or two I got to run across the tarmac before the plane exploded sends shivers down my spine. I shudder to think of what would have happened if the last lot of three-four passengers had delayed our exit by even a couple of minutes, followed by the crew,” reminisced Sayi Bhaskar who managed to cover barely 100 yards before the jarring sound of the explosion rent the air.
Speaking on phone from Copthorne Airport Hotel, Dubai, a few hours after the ordeal by fire, Bhasker who runs a pharmacy in Dallas City, said the Emirates EK 521 flight from Thiruvananthapuram was a pleasant one till it touched down. The captain made his routine announcement about landing in Dubai at 12.32 pm local time. It did. Then all hell broke loose.
“Suddenly we all realised something had gone wrong. After the front portion touched the runway, the aircraft tilted towards the left before holding steady. I am not sure if the wheels came loose before or after the landing. We could hear loud recital of prayers. And the crew started urging us to hurry up and in no time all the six emergency doors were open. We couldn’t exit through the front door as it got filled with fumes and fire,” said the 41-year old.
“Soon the fumes crept into the aircraft through the vent of the air conditioners and the inside of the craft began turning dark. It became increasingly difficult to locate the exit doors. It was also getting difficult to breathe; one of the crew members even donned an oxygen mask.”
Bhaskar was among the last to find a way out to the blinding sun and the hot air as the temperature was inching close to 50 degrees Celsius. Sayi Bhasker was initially quite calm as he helped an elderly lady who grabbed his hand, but soon came the explosion.
“After running across the hot runway for about 100 yards, I heard this massive explosion and looked back. To my shock, the plane was going up in flames. There were not many between me and the burning aircraft.”
Now Bhaskar is in shock like many others. He has decided not to take the connecting flight to the US, which is scheduled at 2 am on Thursday. “As of this moment, I am scared about taking a 16-hour-long flight,” he said.
Bhaskar has cancelled his flight and is leaving for Thrikkadavoor in Kollam on Friday. He can’t wait to get back as his wife and two children, who returned from the US only last year to make their home with Bhaskar’s mother, are eagerly awaiting his return.