Dubai: Even as the tragedy of Air India Express plane crash has devastated many, two Indian expatriates who escaped the flight by a hair’s breadth, are thanking their stars.
In a cruel twist of fate, on August 7, Air India Express Flight IX1344 from Dubai to Kozhikode crashed at Karipur Airport.
Gulf News spoke to the lucky men who survived the crash as they were off-loaded from the flight due to non-payment of fines.
Noufal Moin Vetten, an Ajman resident working as an office boy in a Sharjah school, was booked to travel on this flight and had checked in as per schedule. Recounting his miraculous escape, Vetten, a resident of Mallapuram, Thirunavaya, whose visa was cancelled a week ago, told Gulf News: “I was handed my boarding pass, but when I reached immigration, they told me I had to pay a fine of Dh1,000 for overstay. I had only Dh500 with me. I called my school PRO and he told me to come back. He said they would follow protocols and pay the fines before sending me.“
Vetten was disappointed and called his family to let them know. “When I heard about the crash, I was saddened for all the passengers. But I'm so relieved I missed it. God has been really merciful,” said Vetten.
Afsal Parrakodan, a resident of Abu Dhabi, had a similar stroke of luck. He told Gulf News: “My work visa was cancelled about a week ago and after getting my boarding pass, I was told I had to pay a fine of Dh1,000 at the immigration counter, but I had only Dh500 on me.”
“I was very keen to board the flight and be with my family. So I called a friend who brought me the additional Dh500, but by then, my baggage had been offloaded and the flight’s doors were closed,” said Parrakodan.
“I was feeling very sad and called my mother to tell her I had missed the flight. But a few hours later, when I learnt of the crash, I couldn’t help feel relieved and thankful to God for saving my life,“ said an overwhelmed Parrakodan who plans to fly back next week.
An Air India Express aircraft from Dubai to Kozhikode, skidded off the runway, broke into two and fell 35 feet into the valley at the end of the runway, causing several casualties. At least 18 people, including both the pilots of the flight, were killed in the accident. The flight, operating as part of the Vande Bharat Mission, was carrying 190 people, including the crew. The injured are being treated at four different hospitals in Kozhikode.