Saturday, May 22, 2021

On 11th Anniversary of Mangalore Air Crash DC Pays Emotional Tribute to the 158 Victims

Mangaluru: Emotional tributes were paid to the 158 victims on the eleventh anniversary of Mangalore Air Crash, even as the issue of proper compensation for their kin is yet to be settled. One hundred and fifty eight people had lost their lives, while eight others survived, when Air India Express flight IX 812 overshot Bajpe airport runway and crashed into a deep gorge, on 22 May 2010. The 2010 fatal air crash had shaken up the aviation industry which was forced to undertake a re-look at the safety oversight system of Directorate General of Civil Aviation, covering aerodromes, air navigation, airlines, flight operations, training of pilots and all other related areas.

The plane burst into flames after the crash, which occurred at 6.10 a.m. on 22 May 2010. The captain of the flight, Z. Glusica, a British national of Serbian origin, and his co-pilot H.S. Ahluwalia were among the dead. Nine passengers who did not board the flight on that day were lucky, it is learnt. But every year the District Administration pays tribute to the departed souls in that plane crash at a Memorial Park, near Kulur on Tannirbavi Road, Mangaluru, where few bodies who couldn’t be recognized since they were charred, were buried at this memorial Park. It was the initiative of then DC of Dakshina Kannada A B Ibrahim that saw this Memorial Park set up on the banks of Phalguni River, at a cost of Rs 10 lakhs.

On the 11th Anniversary of the fatal air crash, floral tributes were paid at the Memorial Park on Saturday, 22 May 2021 for the crash victims by Deputy Commissioner Dr K V Rajendra, District Minister-in-charge Kota Srinivas Poojary; MP Nalin Kumar Kateel, Karnataka Indian Coast Guard HQ Panambur DIG Venkatesh, DK Home Guard Commandant Dr Murali Manhar Choontaru, MCC Mayor Premanand Shetty, MCC Commissioner Akshy Sridhar, MLA Vedavyas Kamath, Mahesh Pai- DGM, MI Airport Traffic Services , Ashitoush Chandra- Chief Airport Officer -Adani Mangalore International Airport Ltd, (Flowers/wreaths from the airport were coordinated by Hazel Concessao- PA of MIA Director)Dr Prabhakar Sharma-General secretary, Indian Red Cross DK, Ramesh- Deputy Commandant Home Guard, Y R Belagal- NMPT Traffic Manager, Bharath Kumar- District Fire Officer, Praveen Kumar- Coordinator DK-IRC, MCC Assistant Commissioner (Revenue) Madan Mohan, among others, paid floral tribute to the victims. It was a simple memorial service due to the pandemic/lockdown, where all the dignitaries came, offered floral tributes, sat for two minutes, and left. No one spoke nor expressed any condolences, and it seemed like a NAME SAKE memorial tribute.

Recalling the incident, it is learnt that the Captain Glusica from Serbia had 10,200 hours of flying experience, out of which 7,630 were as pilot-in-command. He was familiar with the airport and had made 19 landings there, last touching down at the Mangalore airport in November 2009. Co-pilot Ahluwalia, based in Mangalore, had 3,650 hours of flying experience, and he too was familiar with the airfield. On that black day, the scene at the Government Wenlock Hospital, where most of the bodies of the victims were brought, was one of untold grief. Relatives and friends had to perform the terrible task of identifying their loved ones from among bodies charred beyond recognition.

A total of 166 passengers including 135 adults, 19 children, four babies and six aircraft personnel were travelling by the ill-fated flight. The lucky eight passengers, including one woman, who miraculously survived the crash were: Mohammad Usman, Mohammad Umer Farooqi, Sabrina Haq, KP Mayankutty, G K Pradeep, Krishnan Kollikunnu, Abdulla PutturIsmail and Joel Prathap D’Souza. Sources reveal that some jumped out of windows as the plane came apart, others scrambled out of the wreckage. Burnt, they raced away from the inferno through the thickly-wooded ravine, while locals also helped. They gave them phones, took them to hospital. Eleven years later on this day it still brings back memories of this deadliest air crash in the history of Mangaluru Airport.

Sources also reveal that there had also been a few instances of thieves making hay and stealing gold, valuables etc by taking advantage of the volatile situation. A few of them were later nabbed. Later, investigation had established that the catastrophe occurred because of the neglect shown by the captain of the flight to suggestions made by the co-pilot. The case filed by a number of passengers’ families demanding increased compensation is still before the Supreme Court. Those who survived were disbursed with the compensation amount within a couple of years. Several passengers accepted the compensation offered by the authorities.

22/05/21 Alfie Dsouza/Mangalorean

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