‘Spirit of solidarity’: Hardeep Puri lauds locals who rescued Kozhikode crash victims
Eighteen people, including the two pilots of the Air India Express aircraft, died and more than 100 were injured in the accident on Friday evening.Updated: Aug 09, 2020 14:00 IST
Civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Sunday appreciated the response of local residents of Kerala’s Kozhikode, who were among the first to help in the rescue operation after an Air India Express plane crashed in the city while landing in heavy rain.
The Air India Express aircraft was bringing back 184 people, who were stranded abroad amidst the coronavirus pandemic, from Dubai to Kozhikode under the government’s Vande Bharat Mission (VBM). Eighteen people, including the two pilots of the Air India Express aircraft, died and more than 100 were injured in the accident on Friday evening.
“I salute the spirit of solidarity & brotherhood shown by the people of Kozhikode who took great personal risks in providing immediate relief & help to the victims. This has helped in averting a greater tragedy,” Puri tweeted.
The minister also said the Kozhikode airport, also known as Karipur locally, has started functioning after the country’s worst passenger aircraft accident since 2010.
“What also speaks volumes for the undaunted spirit of the aviation professionals & people of Kerala that despite this accident operations from the airport recommenced with 2 @FlyWithIX flights landing yesterday morning,” he tweeted.
“VBM will continue with the same undaunted spirit. We will continue to bring back our stranded citizens from wherever in the world they are. I join the people of the state & every Indian in paying tribute to the 18 people who lost their lives in this air tragedy,” he said.
Puri had visited the accident site on Saturday to assess the situation on the ground. “It (the plane) overshot the runway while trying to land amid what were clearly inclement weather conditions prevailing at that time,” he had said at a news briefing.
Officials have said the black box of the Air India Express was recovered on Saturday, even as authorities launched an investigation into the air disaster.
After the accident, local residents helped shift injured passengers to various hospitals, eyewitnesses said.
“It was raining heavily and we suddenly heard a deafening sound, and the aircraft came out of the boundary wall and fell on the road. We couldn’t believe it. Soon we heard cries for help. Smoke was billowing and there was the smell of fuel also,” Mohamad Sahal, a local resident who was among the first to reach the accident spot, said.
According to P Afzal, another resident of the area, many of them helped rescue officials. “Initially we did not wait for ambulances and evacuated the passengers in private vehicles and taxis. We also helped police in controlling traffic to make way for ambulances,” he said.
Investigating officers from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) are probing the Air India Express flight crash at Kozhikode.