Air India Express crash: Families still in mourning one year on

Dubai - Air India Express flight 1344 skidded off the runway and was split in two while landing at the Kozhikode Calicut International Airport.


James Jose

Published: Sat 7 Aug 2021, 10:16 PM

For Murthasa Fasal, every single day after August 7, 2020, was a painful reminder that his two-year-old daughter Aysha Dua was no more.

On that rainy night, Air India Express flight 1344 skidded off the runway and was split in two while landing at the Kozhikode Calicut International Airport in the south Indian state of Kerala. Out of 190 people on board, 21 died, including the two pilots and the toddler Aysha.

“For as long as we are alive, that pain will always remain inside us,” Murthasa said on Saturday, exactly one year since the tragedy. The couple waited five years to have a baby and Aysha was their only child.

His wife Sumayya Thasneem suffered serious injuries in the accident. “My wife is still trying to deal with it physically and mentally and she could not stand or walk for a long time. The past year has been very difficult for both of us,” a sombre Murthasa said.

For many survivors and the families of those who died in the accident, the horrors of the crash remained as the trauma lingered.

Sumayya had struggled to fly back to Dubai as she couldn’t get on a plane without remembering the tragedy.

“On April 1, after taking special permission, and on a wheelchair, she was allowed to return to Dubai. The rest of her treatment is taking place here. The doctors have said that she needs to undergo another surgery for her ankle dislocation. While she was returning to Dubai, she had to fight the fear of being on a flight as it reminded her of the crash. And since returning, she is shaken and weeps even when we travel in the car,” Murthasa lamented.

Dubai resident Jithin KC also lost his father KK Aravandakashan in the crash. He was 67.

“My parents were on the flight and both were seriously injured with multiple injuries and fractures on both the legs. They were in the hospital for two weeks but unfortunately, we couldn’t save our father,” he said.

Jithin’s parents had come on a visit visa and were supposed to fly home on April 30 last year. But because of the Covid restrictions, they couldn’t. “We had rebooked the ticket and unfortunately it was on this flight,” he added.

“My younger brother Arjun and I are yet to recover from the tragedy....They boarded the flight and we were expecting them to reach safely and suddenly this news came on TV. We were so shocked. Nobody expected something like that to happen. We had sleepless nights. Mum is okay now but still undergoing mild treatment. She can walk but not like before. She has not recovered emotionally yet,” Jithin said.

For Ejaz Umer’s wife Jasleena, it was a lucky escape. Jasleena, who was pregnant at that time, was supposed to travel on the ill-fated flight, but they cancelled it at the last minute and rebooked the flight for August 9.

“It is a second life, you could say,” said Ejaz. After delivering her baby girl Henza Mariam, Jasleena returned to Dubai in March but still, she couldn’t help but think about what might have been.

On Saturday, survivors and families of those who died came together in a memorial meeting near the crash site. Rescue workers who helped the victims, as well as social workers, were also present.

“There were about 100 survivors and relatives and around 300 members who paid tribute and also conveyed their thanks to the rescue workers. The meeting took place from 8am until noon,” O.K. Mansoor Ali, chief coordinator of the Malabar Development (MDF), told Khaleej Times over phone from Calicut.

Ali’s brother-in-law Shamsuddeen TK was also on the flight but survived after sustaining minor injuries.

MDF had helped coordinate the rescue when the crash took place and also helped in the rehabilitation of the survivors and the next of kin of the deceased. They also provided support to those who needed legal assistance.

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