Kochi: Kerala governor Arif Mohammed Khan and state chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan visited the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital on Saturday morning to understand from doctors firsthand the extent of injuries suffered by passengers of the Air India Express airline crash on Friday evening.
Also in Kozhikode on Saturday was India’s federal aviation minister, Hardeep Singh Puri, who announced a compensation of Rs1 million (Dh50,000) each to the families of those killed in the accident.
A positive outcome of the rescue operations was the finding of the digital flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder from the crash site. The Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau is also inquiring into the accident.
Toll mounts to 19
By Saturday noon, the toll in the crash-landing of the Air India Express flight from Dubai to Kozhikode had risen to 19.
The flight was carrying 184 passengers, including nearly 40 children, and seven crew members.
There is suspicion that the reason for the crash-landing may not have been an ordinary technical glitch. This view is being put forward given that there was no SOS message from the senior pilot D.V. Sathe, who had years of flying experience.
One local media reported, quoting unnamed sources, that the pilot seemed to have gone ahead to land following normal procedures and not in an emergency fashion.
This viewpoint counters earlier reports that the pilot had sensed a major technical glitch and had tried to use up the fuel before landing so that the aircraft would not catch fire in case of it crash landing.
Another doubt is that the aircraft landed in poor visibility and it may have skidded off the runway because the runway had been drenched in rains that had been pounding Kozhikode over the past few days.
Rescuers told local media that some of the early scenes were heart-wrenching, with bodies strewn around and little children looking around for their parents even as some lay lifeless on the ground amid debris of the aircraft.
M. Abhilash, a lawyer who lives close to the airport, told correspondents that he heard a deafening sound and rushed to the site along with a few friends. They were initially blocked at the gates by security personnel but later managed entry.
“The plane was broken into three pieces”, said Abhilash, who said there were cries of “help me, help me” from different parts. He said he saw that some bodies had been crushed.
In contrast, some families heaved sighs of relief on being saved from the crash. P. Ramshad, 28, his wife Sufaira and their 4-year-old daughter Saidasherin were all lucky to escape from the mishap, though Ramshad had some injuries.
Rescue team must quarantine
Those who participated in the rescue operations at the crash site of the Air India Express in Kozhikode have been directed to be in quarantine.
This is because the test results of passengers who were in the flight from Dubai are awaited.
State health minister K.K. Shailaja expressed gratitude to those who rushed to the scene and carried out rescue operations and reminded them to be in quarantine. ”Please do be in self-quarantine. Don’t take this as an inconvenience”, Shailaja said.
Because of the accident, the airport authorities had not been able to conduct proper Covid protocols for the passengers who were arriving from Dubai to Kozhikode.