Nearly two years after the air crash claimed 158 lives and the remains of 12 victims buried as they could not be identified, the site of the anonymous graves at Thannirbhavi here remains unmarked and unprotected.
The Dubai-Mangalore Air India flight IX 812 overshot the table-top runway and nosedived into a wooded area before bursting into flames, killing 158 passengers on May 22, 2010. Only eight passengers survived. The bodies recovered from the crash site were charred. Twelve bodies could not be identified. After DNA tests failed, the 12 bodies were buried at a site in Thannirbhavi, just off National Highway 66, adjacent to the Phalguni river. The victims included a boy and girl.
When this correspondent visited the spot on Friday, at least three trucks carrying sand passed close to the graves in a span of 15 minutes. The burial site is unrecognisable from what it was nearly two years ago, as sand has been dumped near the graves. Sand is also being transported from the river from two sites right next to the graves. There is nothing now, except a few mounds of mud to suggest that people were buried there.
Workers at one site told The Hindu that they had been working there for nearly a month. President of the Mangalore Air Crash Victims' Families Association Mahammad Beary told The Hindu that “he was aware that sand was being extracted from the spot” and a new road (Kuloor-Thannirbhavi road) had been constructed. He said the office-bearers of the association would discuss about the issue at its next meeting.
Meanwhile, dense foliage has reclaimed the land where the plane crashed, making the site almost unrecognisable, except for the dried remains of wreaths placed there last year.
The memorial plaque with names of the victims placed near the site was vandalised days after it was put up by Air India.
Mr. Beary said that the legal battle with the airline and its insurance company for compensation was continuing.
“Even though we demanded that the miscreants who defaced the site be caught, nothing has happened.
Now we are thinking of a memorial in a public place, may be at the airport,” Mr. Beary said.