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The last flight home

A family of 16 charred to death, a daughter waiting for surprise gift from father.

india Updated: May 23, 2010 00:20 IST
HT Correspondent/Ramesh Babu
HT Correspondent/Ramesh Babu
Hindustan Times

The Sheikh family

Sameer Sheikh, a Saudi Arabia-based businessman, lost 16 members of his family on Saturday in the Mangalore plane crash.

The family was travelling to Mangalore to attend the last rites of Sheikh's grandmother who had died on Friday.

Sheikh’s wife and two children were among the 16.

Sheikh was in Mumbai and waiting to catch a flight to Mangalore at the time of the incident.

Another family from Dubai was perished in the crash. Manirekha Poonja, her husband and their 17-year-old daughter were flying in for her cousin’s marriage.

Poonja worked in the Dubai-based Gulf News daily's finance department.

“When we heard the news of the crash, we got in touch with our relative in Mangalore. Her name is not among the survivors," a family member said.

Poonja's daughter Harshini was a student of media and communications.

Abdul Samad

Hours before boarding the aircraft that crashed in Mangalore on Saturday, Abdul Samad had promised a surprise gift to his daughter.

Early Saturday morning, Samad’s wife and two children hired a taxi from Kannur, in neighbouring Kerala, to receive him at the airport. Samad was a small-time vendor in Dubai.

His daughter did not sleep all night. She was excited about seeing her father after three years, and wondering what the surprise would be.

Samad was one of the 158 people killed in the crash. His wife had to rummage through the bodies at Wenlock Hospital in Mangalore to identify him.

Later, the two left Mangalore in the same taxi which was to take the reunited family home. Samad’s son, a degree student, stayed back to complete the formalities and collect the body. “Though he was in the Gulf, he couldn’t earn much. But he was particular about giving his children good education,” his brother-in-law Muahmed Kareem said.

Siddique Sulaiman

It is a double blow for the Sulaiman family. Siddique Sulaiman, a salesman in Sharjah, was desperate to attend his father’s burial in Kerala’s Kasargod district.

But he was killed in the air crash in Mangalore on Saturday and his family now has to arrange for two burials. Siddique’s brother, Usman boarded an earlier flight and reached home safely.

“Our relatives in Dubai were camping at the airport for the last two days to arrange a ticket for Siddique so he could attend his father’s burial. Finally, they managed to get him one on this flight. We never thought it would be his last journey,” his brother-in-law Abdullah said.

Since most of the bodies were charred beyond recognition, families are settling for whatever the officials are giving in coffins.

Chandukutty Nair, 55, another man from Kasargod, had had enough of the Gulf. He had spent 25 years there and was returning to settle in his native place. Nair, too, was killed in the crash.