People did not have time even to remove their seat belts, says survivor

May 22, 2010 02:39 pm | Updated November 28, 2021 08:56 pm IST - MANGALORE

Rescue workers looking for survivors as they remove the debris of the Air India flight that crashed while landing at Bajpe Airport in Mangalore on Saturday.

Rescue workers looking for survivors as they remove the debris of the Air India flight that crashed while landing at Bajpe Airport in Mangalore on Saturday.

Of the 166 people on board the Air India Express flight that crashed here at 6.20 a.m. on Saturday, only eight survived. Sabrina Nasir Haq (23) a student of Kasturba Medical College, Manipal, is the sole woman to have come out alive. The others are Ummer Farooq Mohammed (26), Joel Pratap D'Souza (24), Mayankutty, Krishnan Koolikkunnu, Pradeep G.K., Mohammed Usman of Hampanakatta (his name-sake is among the dead) and Puttur Ismail Abdulla (35).

They were taken to A.J. Hospital and Research Centre, Kasturba Medical College Hospital, S.C.S. Hospital, Unity Hospital and K.S. Hegde Hospital.

“I had lost hope”

The first to be brought to the hospital from the crash site was Ummer Farooq Mohammed, 26, who was returning home from Dubai after 3 months as he could not get a job there. Describing his ordeal at the A.J. hospital, he said, “I lost all hope looking at the thick smoke. After the plane touched the ground, it was wobbling badly, and then it started breaking apart. Through a hole, I saw some trees. Somehow I managed to get to the opening. Someone was in front of me and I pushed that man out, and he fell down. But I burned my hands while getting out through the hole. Then I crawled as far as away as I could on the hilly terrain without the use of my hands.”

He was brought to the hospital in an autorickshaw by some villagers and, through them, he was able to contact his family. He has suffered 10 per cent burns to his hands and some minor injuries.

One woman, who heard of a survivor at the Kasturba Medical College hospital at Jyoti Circle, came to find out if it was her son. She went into the room, only to come out weeping inconsolably as the young man in the room was not her son Joyan Saldanha, but another with a similar sounding first name.

Joel Pratap D'Souza's parents, Rosy and Joseph, had gone to the airport to pick up their son. They said that he managed to limp to the road, from where a motorcyclist gave him a lift to the terminal. Once there, he was brought to the hospital in an ambulance.

Mohamed Usman, 49, a resident of the Hampankatta area of the city, said that about 3-4 minutes might have lapsed since the plane landed and veered off the runway and down the hill. It was within that short period that he managed to escape. When he looked back from a safe distance, he saw flames. “The fire spread too fast, people did not even have time to remove their seat belts,” he says.

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