Part of perimeter wall demolished, cockpit cut open to pull out pilots: Rescuers
The aircraft was being operated by Air India Express, from Dubai to Kozhikode as a repatriation flight under the government’s Vande Bharat Mission to bring back Indians stranded abroad amidst the pandemicUpdated: Aug 09, 2020 09:41 IST
At least 50 CISF personnel, officials from Kerala police, staff of the Airport Authority of India, fire fighters, airline crew and 20-30 civilians joined the rescue operation that lasted close to three hours and successfully pulled out all 190 passengers and crew members from Boeing 737 aircraft that crashed while landing at the Karipur airport in Kozhikode, Kerala on Friday evening.
The aircraft was being operated by Air India Express, from Dubai to Kozhikode as a repatriation flight under the government’s Vande Bharat Mission to bring back Indians stranded abroad amidst the pandemic
Deputy commandant, Kishor Kumar AV, the chief airport security officer (CASO) at Karipur airport, who led the rescue operation, said they were informed by their assistant sub inspector Ajeet Singh about the crash who was present at the site. “Our control room then informed all the agencies concerned including the local police, Airports Authority of India (AAI), firefighters, National disaster Response Force (NDRF) and ambulance,” Kumar said.
He said it was the CISF control room that informed the Air Traffic Control, which was searching for the plane, that the plane has crashed.
As first respondents the CISF personnel started pulling out people from the debris to take them to safe distance. “One of the major challenges was visibility. It was dark and the area had been put on red alert due to heavy rain. Aslo, a lot of fuel had spilled out from the plane which could have caught fire or even cause an explosion. Despite the risk our men continued the rescue and did not step back even once,” the CASO said.
However, soon the firefighters, airline staff and AAI officials arrived at the spot with emergency lights and other equipment. “The cutters and other equipment were used to cut cables and metallic body of the aircraft and make way for the rescue teams to enter the aircraft and pull out passengers safely,” he said.
Kumar said, apart from the agencies, because locals had gathered on the main road, right adjacent to the perimeter wall of the airport where the plane had crashed, 20-30 civilians also voluntarily joined the rescue team.
Describing the crash site, Kumar said, when they reached they could hear the passengers and children crying in pain. “Most of them were stuck between the seats and had their legs and lower body critically injured. Many had even fallen unconscious. There was a lot of luggage in the aircraft. All were pulled out with the help of medical professionals and were immediately sent to hospitals,” he said.
Kumar said most challenging was to bring out the two pilots. They were both found in unconscious state. Because of the impact of the crash, cockpit cabin got separated from the rest of the aircraft and had rammed the perimeter wall of the airport. The speed of the plane must have been very high because the cockpit cabin got stuck into the wall. Luckily, we found a JCB machine on the main road across the wall. It was used to demolish a portion of the wall. The firefighters and medical staff then used equipment to cut open the body of the aircraft to pull out the two pilots. Their rescue alone took close to an hour. Their bodies were badly damaged. Both of them were rushed to the hospital without any delay,” the officer said.
The CASO said once all the passengers were safely taken to hospitals, they started preserving the luggage. “Because many people on flight were returning after years, they had a lot of luggage full of valuable like jewelry, electronics and cash. CISF along with the local police preserved the luggage of the passengers which will be returned to them in due time. The process continued till early hours of Saturday, “ he said.
On Saturday, CISF director general, Rakesh Ranjan also acknowledged CISF’s respond towards the incident and announced DG’s commendation for their officers’ prompt and outstanding efforts.