The district was still counting its dead on Sunday as the grief-stricken families of those who died on board the Air India Express airplane, which crashed at the Mangalore airport, were struggling to face the tragedy that had befallen them.
According to official figures, 48 of the 50 passengers identified so far as hailing from northern districts of Kerala were from Kasaragod. District Collector Anand Singh told The Hindu over phone that 35 bodies had so far been handed over to relatives since Saturday evening. Ten more bodies were expected to be handed over by Sunday night depending on the final confirmation through DNA finger-printing, said the Collector who was in Mangalore as part of the government machinery working overnight there to help the families.
Almost all the bodies that had been handed over to the families were buried in their localities. Many of the bereaved families were busy with funeral on Saturday night and Sunday morning. Asked if the number of deceased passengers from the district would go up, Mr. Singh said that the district administration was worried that some of those deceased hailing from the district might be unaccounted for, because the addresses given in their passports were located outside the State. He said that there could be five or 10 such passengers from the district. If so, the number of Malayalis who died in crash will be around 60. Of the 50 identified Malayali passengers who lost their lives, five each are women and children, all from Kasaragod. One each hailed from Kannur and Malappuram.
While the families that buried their dead were reconciling with the tragedy, for the bereaved family members and friends of the deceased passengers from this district still to be identified, it was a harrowing day. Many of them spent the whole day in the Wenlock Hospital in Mangalore trying to identify the charred bodies. Muhammed Sayeed, a close friend of Muhammad Aslam (32) from Uduma, who was among the passengers confirmed dead, told The Hindu from Mangalore over phone that the body was finally identified at 5 p.m. after a long delay. Another family had also made a claim on the body. He said the body was now being taken to Uduma for burial that would take place at night.
Meanwhile, an array of leaders including Ministers visited the bereaved families on Sunday. They included Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi, Leader of the Opposition Oommen Chandy, Minister of State for Railways E. Ahamed, Devaswom Minister Ramachandran Kadannappally, MPs K. Sudhakaran, K.C. Venugopal and M.K. Raghavan.