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I don't know how I got out of the wreck and flames: Sabrina

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Sabrina Nasir Haq, the only woman who survived the plane crash at Mangalore, and her mother Rukaya Khatun.
Sabrina Nasir Haq, the only woman who survived the plane crash at Mangalore, and her mother Rukaya Khatun.

Anisha Sheth

In darkness, the medico had to make her way as far as her broken leg would allow

MANGALORE: Looking back after she managed to get out of the ill-fated Air India Express Flight IX 812, Sabrina Nasrin Haq, 23, now remembers having seen flames at the tail-end of the plane, which crashed on landing at the airport here on May 22.

A student of the Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, Sabrina boarded the flight from Dubai, on her return from a visit to her home in Abu Dhabi.

“It was a normal flight as we approached the [Mangalore] airport. The crew instructed us to fasten our seat belts and the plane touched the ground. Then it started accelerating again. I felt the jerk as it picked up speed. People started screaming as the plane tried to take off again. I did not look at the other passengers because I would get more scared. I closed my eyes when I felt the plane go down.”

After the plane came to a standstill, it was dark. “Power supply went off, and there were trees outside.” Sabrina unfastened her seatbelt, but when she tried to stand, she found her right foot trapped. Managing to free herself somehow, she found herself out of the aircraft. “I don't know how I got out, I could hear the sound of the propellers. But there were trees and I had to negotiate the vegetation with my hands to get out of the plane. I landed somewhere near the fuel tank so I went in the opposite direction.”

Sabrina made her way as far as her broken left leg and sprained right ankle would allow her. “Then I think I slept or fainted due to exhaustion, I'm not sure, but some people found me and picked me up. Later I learned that the place where they found me caught fire two minutes after they took me away.”

At some point between getting out of the plane and losing consciousness, she looked back at the wreck, and saw flames near the rear end of the plane.

Despite having been caught in a plane crash, she does not fear flying again. “I'm used to flying, it's ok,” Sabrina, who is undergoing treatment at the A.J. Hospital and Research Centre in the city, said on Tuesday. She is yet to watch the footage of the accident. Her mother, Rukaya Khatun, is the source of news.

“I feel as if I'm in a story-book tale,” said Ms. Khatun. “If I did not think so, I would not be able to joke with her [Sabrina], talk to her, eat anything, or sleep.”

A doctor in Al-Ain, Abu Dhabi, Ms. Khatun, who reached Mangalore late on Saturday night, said: “Until I saw the news [on television] I did not know that it was not a simple thing…that it was not a bump or a small thing”

Sabrina's family was able to speak to her through her friend and classmate Bharadwaj, who was in the hospital within a few hours of the early morning crash. Sabrina's father too is a doctor and is in Abu Dhabi with her younger sister.


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