Relatives of the deceased and crash survivors hand over the agreement to build a family health centre as a token of gratitude to the local residents who led rescue operations when the Dubai-Kozhikode flight crashed two years ago on August 7, 2020. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: On the second anniversary of the Dubai-Kozhikode Air India Express (AIE) flight crash today, August 7, survivors and victims’ families pledged to support residents who had led the rescue operations, by gifting them with a family health centre near the crash site in the south Indian state of Kerala.

Passengers of the ill-fated flight IX 1344 have joined hands with Malabar Development Forum (MDF) Charity Foundation to construct an annexure building for the government Primary Health Centre in Chirayil area near the Calicut International Airport in Karipur as a token of their gratitude to the heroes who risked their own lives to save crash victims during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Twenty-one people, including 19 passengers and two pilots, were killed and more than 160 were injured when the Vande Bharat repatriation flight carrying Indians stranded in the UAE overshot and skidded off the tabletop runway in heavy rain, and the fuselage broke into two while nosediving into a ravine.

Relatives of all the deceased passengers and all the survivors have been compensated by the airline, with 47 compensation settlements done through a UAE-based legal firm, said Dr Sajjad Hussain, who had lost his sister Sahira Banu, 29, and her ten-month-old son Azam Muhammed—the youngest victim, in the crash.

Also the legal convenor of the Air Crash Action Council formed by MDF that was at the forefront to grant compensation for the victims of the accident, Dr Sajjad told Gulf News that passengers’ families would contribute the money to build the new Family Health Centre (FHC) facility.

“An agreement for constructing the new building was handed over at a ceremony held this morning,” he said over phone from Kerala.

Emotional reunion

The event witnessed an emotional reunion of the relatives of the deceased and survivors with local residents of Kondotty and surrounding areas who rescued several lives.

Supplied videos showed that the event began with a silent prayer for the deceased, with the names of all 21 read out. Kerala officials and politicians also took part in the event that saw relatives hand over the agreement to construct the FHC to the healthcare officials concerned.

The second anniversary event turned out to be an emotional reunion of the families of the deceased passengers and survivors with the local residents who saved many lives. Image Credit: Supplied

The project is estimated to cost Rs5million, according to Raheem Wayanad, general convenor of the action council.

“The Chirayil PHC is just 300metres away from the crash site. It serves a huge colony of low-income families from backward communities. We can ensure better healthcare services to hundreds of deserving people by upgrading it to a family health centre (FHC) through this unique charity project,” he said.

He added that passengers’ families are free to contribute as per their capacity from the compensations they received.

All compensated: AIE

A spokesperson of AIE confirmed to Gulf News that the airline has compensated all injured passengers and family members of the deceased passengers. “We could complete the process with the support of the family members of deceased and the injured passengers.”

According to the action council, 131 compensation cases were settled in India, 47 in the UAE and six in the US. The settlements in the UAE were done through Bestwins Law Corporation UAE which was hired by the families of the deceased.

For 16 of the 18 people who died, compensation in different amounts ranging from Rs1.31 crore to Rs6.23 crore have been paid to the families who had demanded compensation as per the Montreal Convention.

The remaining two children’s families have also been offered similar amounts. While most families have received the cash, the rest are awaiting the payment through corresponding law firms, according to the council.

“No compensation can replace our loved ones. But, we wanted to ensure deserving compensation to all the families,” said Dr Sajjad.

Apart from the local residents of Kondotty, he said, the families are also thankful to individuals, organisations like MDF, various legal firms, legal experts, especially those from Bestwins, staff of Air India Express, media persons and others who supported them.

'Life has to move on'

Meanwhile, families of the deceased and the injured survivors have tried to move on in life.

“Despite our heavy loss, life has to move on,” said Abu Dhabi resident Ismail Palollathil, father-in-law of crash victim Manal Ahmed who died along with her five-month-old unborn baby. His son Athif Muhammed had lost his wife just 10 days before their first wedding anniversary.

Thajina K.P, who was one of the most critically injured passengers, and her children, who survived the crash, are back with her husband Abdul Rasheed in Dubai. Image Credit: Supplied

However, Athif is now set to open a new chapter in life after getting engaged again, said Ismail.

Thajina K.P, now 34, who lost her unborn child and a leg after the crash, and her children Muhammed Hisham, now 13, daughter Hadiya, now 9, are among the injured survivors who have overcome many challenges to move on in life.

Thajina’s husband Abdul Rasheed, a Dubai resident, said he brought his family back to Dubai in April this year. “Thajina is now walking with the help of a prosthetic leg. She uses a walking stick and a walker also. We are so grateful that she can walk again though it is still painful.”

He said his son still has to undergo some more surgeries and the next one is scheduled after six months.