A last-minute change in travel plan saved Congress MLA from Kerala A P Abdullakutty from meeting the fate of 158 passengers who died when an Air India Express plane from Dubai crashed at Mangalore.
Abdullakutty initially planned to catch the ill-fated flight to Mangalore since he had to reach his home town Kannur urgently after a visit to the Gulf.
But he was a bit late to reach the Dubai International Airport and changed his ticket to a flight to Karippur (Kozhikode) instead of the one to Mangalore in which he had originally planned to fly.
To his rude shock, he came to know about the Mangalore air tragedy as soon as he reached Karippur.
"My cousin was flooded with calls on his mobile from relatives and friends who were anxious to know if he was in the Mangalore flight or Kozhikode flight," said Abdul Khadar, a close relative of Abdullakutty.
"The whole family, including his wife and children, had tense moments before he (Abdullakutty) called us and said he was safe," Khadar said.
Abdullakutty was elected to the Lok Sabha twice on CPI(M) ticket. But he joined the Congress just before last general elections and then won a bye-election from Kannur.
Mainkutty, one of eight passengers who survived the crash, is a fellow-townsman and distant relative of Abdullakutty. "By God's grace I survived. My prayers to Allah," he said.
"If I hesitated for a moment and failed to jump out of a gaping hole of the broken aircraft, I would have been a dead
man myself," he said.
The Boeing 737-800 aircraft of Air India's low budget carrier Air India Express crashed and burst into flames after it overshot the runway while landing on Saturday, killing 158 persons. Only eight passengers survived the crash.