MALAPPURAM: Amid the numbing tragedy caused by the plane crash at the Kozhikode airport on Friday, what shone through in the hour of overpowering grief was the selfless service rendered by the people in Malappuram. Their commitment to the cause ensured that the relief and rescue operations proceeded without a hitch.
Within minutes of the Air India Express crash-landing at the tabletop airport around 7.40pm, several hundred people living nearby rushed to the accident site.
“We rushed to the area. We saw that the plane had broken in two. Though the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) initially refused to let us in, later they asked us to help in the rescue operations as only a few persons from the airport were available in the beginning to carry out the rescue operations,” said Junaid Karipur, who had participated in the rescue operations.
Responding to the CISF call, more people entered the airport premises for the rescue operation. Those living in the vicinity of the airport got in touch with their contacts through What’sApp, urging their participation.
“It was a distressing sight there. We heard passengers of the ill-fated aircraft trapped under the debris crying out for help. Some people had sustained severe injuries. So we pulled them out of the debris and laid them on the ground in a nearby area while waiting for ambulances to arrive. Though initially only one ambulance was available, later the authorities arranged for more ambulances along with rescue workers from fire and rescue services department, police and NDRF,” said Fazal Puthiyakath, another rescuer.
The injured were first taken to Relief Hospital at Kondotty. When the hospital was filled with patients, we sent the injured to other hospitals in Kozhikode and Malappuram districts.
The rescuers had to cope on two fronts — inclement weather and the Covid threat. It was raining heavily at times during the rescue operation. “We didn’t mind heavy rain or the Covid threat during the rescue operations. Our only thought was saving the lives of those trapped under the debris,” Puthiyakath added.
After the people were shifted to the hospitals, a challenge the hospital authorities faced was the shortage of blood in blood banks. The local people had a solution for the issue as well.
They immediately spread message through WhatsApp groups asking people to donate blood. Within minutes, hundreds of people queued up at hospitals in the area, including the Medical College Hospital, Baby Memorial Hospital and Relief Hospital in Kozhikode to donate blood. Even those who participated in the rescue operations donated blood.
Nawalul Rahman, who coordinated the blood donation campaign on the day, said, “Several teams, including mine, had first taken up the issue of blood shortage. We spread the message through social media groups. Following this, around 3,000 people contacted me through calls and messages, indicating their willingness to donate blood. Many of them went to the hospitals to donate blood. People who came forward to help in the hour of need should be appreciated.”