The Hindu, which reached the May 22 air crash site here within the first hour, found that the administration was in a state of utter confusion.
Less than two hours after the crash, a senior revenue official of the district administration left the disaster site in search of a fax machine. He wanted to fax the list of passengers on board the aircraft to the State headquarters and the Deputy Commissioner of a neighbouring district. The result was that there was no senior officer left to take important decisions at the site.
On account of the absence of a senior officer to direct the relief operation, ambulances took the recovered bodies wherever the driver deemed fit. Later, District Health Officer H. Jagannath went on record to say that the confusion over the identity of bodies could have been avoided to some extent if all of them had been brought to one place. “Some senior officer on the spot should have directed the ambulances,” he said.
A senior police official was directing traffic, even as lower ranking officers stood around without any orders and not knowing what to do next. Besides, there was nobody to direct traffic at the entry point of the road leading to the spot.
As a result, ambulances and fire engines wasted precious time in negotiating the swarm of vehicles that had been recklessly parked by the hundreds of local people who descended on the spot.
The police, fire services personnel, paramedics, revenue officials and members of the general public were seen working in isolation. According to the rules framed by the State Government in 2008 for the implementation of the National Disaster Management Act, 2005, the Assistant Commissioner of a district should be the Chief Operating Officer of the District Disaster Management Authority.
As per the directions of the National Disaster Management Authority, every district must have an emergency operations centre at the district headquarters, running round the clock and it is to be headed by a project coordinator, reporting directly to the Assistant Commissioner.
Officers from the district Revenue, Police, PWD, Municipalities, Health Department and Fire Services should be assigned to this centre.