Sunday, August 09, 2020

Humanity above all: In Kozhikode air crash, hundreds of locals helped despite pandemic

On Friday evening, Kondotty resident Shuhaib heard a noise he had never heard before. It was raining heavily and the power supply was cut at his wife’s house, located 200 metres away from the Kozhikode International Airport.
“We heard a screeching noise, like steel wires being dragged across the road. This was followed by a boom and then a tremor which we all felt,” Shuhaib tells TNM. Initially, residents of the locality assumed that a landslide had occurred near the airport, which has its runway on a tabletop. A few of them, Shuhaib included, rushed to the site, only to witness a crashed Boeing-737 Air India Express flight which lay broken in pieces.
However, what happened once the airport let locals participate in the rescue mission 20 minutes later, is a source of pride for Kerala. It stands testimony to the collective strength and humanity displayed by residents from across Kozhikode and Malappuram, who braved a pandemic to save several lives from the accident.
Within the first hour of the rescue operations, jointly led by civilians, fire and rescue services, police and airport authorities, hundreds of local residents turned up at the airport. Several of the neighbourhood people were first responders, who managed to rescue and hospitalise 50 passengers out of 189, even before official rescue teams reached the site.
There were not enough ambulances in the beginning. We were wondering how to take rescued passengers to a hospital. So we used Facebook to spread the message to people to bring bigger cars to the airport. Within 10 minutes, at least 80 cars turned up to take the wounded passengers,” Mohammad Asif, 24, a rescuer who had taken out the bodies of the two pilots from the cockpit, told TNM. With no vehicles available in the beginning, volunteers blocked a pick-up truck on the road and ensured that some of the passengers were taken to the hospital. Survivors were taken out in auto rickshaws, two-wheelers and smaller cars initially before the ambulances arrived.
Those with minor injuries were admitted to the Mercy Hospital and the Relief Hospitals in Kondotty. The more serious cases were directly taken to the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital, MIMS, Baby Memorial Hospital, Beach Hospital and the Manjeri Medical College Hospital where ICU facilities are available.
09/08/20 Sreedevi Jayarajan/News Minute
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