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Crash could have been much worse

delhi Updated: Jun 02, 2011 00:13 IST
Sidhartha Roy

Had it not been for the presence of mind showed by the residents of Faridabad's Parvatiya Colony, the recent air crash could have had more devastating effects.

On May 25, a single engine Pilatus PC-12 aircraft, carrying a critically-ill patient from Patna crashed into a house in this lower middle-class colony after facing bad weather.

The seven passengers, including crew, on board the aircraft died along with three members of a family who were living in the house.

The aircraft, being used as an air ambulance, was also carrying four oxygen cylinders, apart from other life saving equipment.

The aircraft caught fire after crashing and the highly inflammable oxygen cylinders would also have burst if some alert local residents had not removed them in time.

"The oxygen cylinders were somewhat damaged but thankfully did not catch fire after the crash," said an official of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

Though the crash is now being probed by an independent panel, the regulator had sent three separate teams at the site immediately after the crash.

"After talking to the witnesses, we found out that the residents, who had barged into the aircraft to save its passengers and were injured in the process, had immediately removed the cylinders," the official said.

"They have shown immense presence of mind because if the oxygen cylinders had burst, they would have damaged the adjoining houses too and perhaps led to more fatalities," he said.

Not only the oxygen cylinders from the aircraft, the residents also removed a gas cylinder from inside the house in which the aircraft had crashed, saving more lives.

Officials also said since the aircraft was small and had already traversed most of its journey from Patna, it was not carrying too much fuel. Aviation fuel, too, is highly inflammable and damaging.

The officials said according to eyewitnesses, the aircraft was also leaking fuel while hovering above the area before it crashed.

When asked about the presence of oxygen cylinders and other medical equipment on board, DGCA chief EK
Bharat Bhushan said investigations were on and details would be available only when the probe committee submits its report.

According to sources in DGCA, the regulator is also planning to bring in new norms regarding operation of air ambulances.