Distraught relatives gather at Mumbai airport

The bodies of H.S. Ahluwalia, co-pilot of the Air India flight which crashed in Mangalore, and crew member Tejal Anil Kamulkar were flown in here on Sunday.

Tearful scenes were witnessed as the bodies, covered with wreaths, were transferred from an aircraft to ambulances. Distraught relatives gathered at the airport consoled one another.

“May his soul rest in peace. He was a true Sikh who helped and served everyone,” Inder Singh Kohli, a neighbour of the Ahluwalias, told journalists.

Ahluwalia's body was taken to a neighbourhood gurdwara for prayers, and then cremated at 9 p.m. He is survived by his mother, two brothers and a sister.

Tejal's body was taken to her house at Dombivili in Thane. Words failed Anil Kamulkar, who received the remains of his daughter. “I don't feel like saying anything. She was very nice. It's all in God's hands. She always wanted to be an air hostess and I made her one. I will always remember everything [about her],” said Mr. Kamulkar, who came to the airport along with his son.

Tejal, 25, joined Air India Charters Limited as airline attendant on training on July 7, 2009. After training, she was “engaged” with the airline “on a fixed-term contract for five years from January 22, 2010 and on the date of her death [May 22], completed exactly four months of service.”

The airline was not certain when the body of another crew member from Mumbai, Sujata Siddharth Survase, would arrive here.

Sujata, 29, already had three years of work experience under her belt before she joined Air India on September 27, 2007. She was also “engaged on a fixed-term contract for five years from February 1, 2008.”

Harpreet A.D. Singh, coordinator of the emergency operations and general manager, quality unit, said identification of bodies and procedures were still to be completed. The airline was finding it difficult to locate a relative of the Sheikh family, which lost 16 of its members in the crash.

“We are trying our best to contact them. We have not established any direct contact. We have tried Dubai and Mangalore numbers. We have two dedicated personnel just to check on the family,” Ms. Singh told journalists.

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