Kozhikode plane crash: There was no warning from the pilot, say passengers

'My children are traumatised, they get startled and scream even when the car hits a pothole'

Published: 09th August 2020 03:15 PM  |   Last Updated: 09th August 2020 03:37 PM   |  A+A-

The mangled remains of the Air India Express flight at Kozhikode airport | MANU R MAVELIL

The mangled remains of the Air India Express flight at Kozhikode airport | MANU R MAVELIL

Express News Service

KASARAGOD: It was an unusually terse announcement from pilot Deepak Vasanth Sathe before landing. "All he said was we will be touching down shortly," said Abdul Rafee A Hameed (39), a former insurance executive with Emirates NBD Bank.

After nine years with the bank, he had to quit his job and was returning home with his wife Ayachathu Saleena A Rafi (35), and their two sons Abdulla Rechab (10) and Abdulla Shesham (4).

They were among the 190 persons on board the Vande Bharat flight IX-1344 that crash-landed at Kozhikode airport. Rechab and Shesham were among the 10 children onboard. 

Usually, the pilot informs the passengers about the local time and the weather outside, Rafee said. "And it was raining heavily outside. But there was no mention of anything," he said.
Another passenger Ranjith P, a native of Ennapara in Kasaragod, too said he did not hear anything that prepared him for the crash-landing.

After the announcement, it took 45 minutes before the plane touched down. "For the first two or three seconds, I thought it was smooth. Then the plane bounced off the tarmac and split into two. I could feel we were going down," said Rafee.

Ranjith, a plumber, said he crashed into the table tray. The four-year-old Shesham was trapped between two seats. "I could not see Rechab. Later I heard his cry from under a pile of wires and luggage," said Rafee.

The family suffered minor physical injuries. Saleena got a gash on her nose which required three stitches. "But we were lucky because we were sitting in the 16th row. The rows up to 14 were smashed," said Rafee, a native of Kuniya in Kasaragod. The emergency exit was in the 15th row.
Before the landing, the plane was calm inside. "There was no panic because no one knew what was happening," he said.

Pilot Sathe landed the aircraft in the second attempt. "He knew there was some trouble but he did not alert the passengers," he said.

Residents to rescue

Rafee's family was the first to get out of the broken aircraft. Many passengers were trapped between seats and required urgent help, said Rafee. "When I got out, I saw there was a gate nearby and two security guards were posted there. But they closed the gate and stood there," he said.
Rafee said he and a few other passengers approached them and asked them to allow the residents inside to help. "But they refused. So we appealed to the residents directly," he said.
Initially, there were around 20 residents near the gate. "When he appealed, they broke open the gate and rushed in. Soon, there were 50 and 100 of them," he said.
They brought in their private cars and small and took the passengers to the hospitals. "They did not care about corona or their cars getting dirty. My family was taken to the hospital in a private car," he said.

Children traumatised

Rafee said his children were not physically hurt as much as they were mentally traumatised. While returning to Kasaragod from Kozhikode in a taxi Saturday morning, the children would get startled and scream whenever the car hit a pothole, he said. "They thought their plane was crashing again. We did not close our eyes once. We were holding our children tight," he said.


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