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Dubai-Kozhikode Air India Express crash: Trauma lingers a month after incident

Nandini Sircar/Dubai
Filed on September 9, 2020 | Last updated on September 9, 2020 at 09.25 pm
Dubai-Kozhikode, Air India Express, crash, Trauma, lingers, month, incident

(Supplied photo)

Out of 190 people on board, 21 died, including the two pilots.

Nadya Mohammed Saleem couldn't thank the heavens enough for saving her 66-year-old mother from the Dubai-Kozhikode Air India Express plane crash. It has been a month since the tragedy, but the trauma lingers, she said.

On the rainy night of August 7, the plane skidded off the runway and was split in two while landing at Calicut International Airport in the south Indian state of Kerala. Out of 190 people on board, 21 died, including the two pilots.

Nadya's mother, who sustained injuries, is still in pain and could hardly sleep at night. "She says she can hear the sound of some announcement in the background, as if she is inside a plane. Other sounds from that incident echo in her ears, too, especially at night."

Her mother had undergone surgeries for injuries in both her shoulders. "She needs support even for the smallest chore. She cannot go to the washroom all by herself. She is still in physical pain. But what is more worrying is that we feel she is still in some kind of trauma." Nadya said.

Muhammad Raihan's 41-year-old father Ashik Puthar Peediyekkal is also recovering. The pain is still there, he said. Currently, he is undergoing physiotherapy.

"My father had lost his job, so he was returning to India. He had suffered injuries in his shoulders on both sides. His right arm is still causing him quite a lot of pain," said Raihan.

Families still in grief

Families who lost their loved ones in the tragedy had been trying hard to cope with grief.

Prajeesh Kulanvarah, along with his two brothers, said a silent prayer for their deceased mother as they remembered her a month after the crash. Prajeesh's mother, Santha Marakkat, was 59.

In her memory, the family cooked her favourite dishes and spread them out in front of her photo. "We pray that her soul may rest in peace. We will have a bigger ceremony on the 41st day after her death, as per our custom," Prajeesh said.

"My mother was visiting my second brother in Dubai and got stranded in the city because of travel restrictions. She was returning with my cousin Manoj Kumar on the same flight. Thankfully, he survived the accident but my mother didn't."

Charity donation

The family of another victim, 29-year-old Sahira Banu, had decided to offer help to a charity in her honour. They donated all the gold jewellery she had worn on the flight. Sahira died with her 10-month-old son, Azam Muhammed.

"We are six siblings. She was the fourth one. We have donated the chain, bangles, earrings and rings that she was wearing on that day. It has been given to a support group that helps the underprivileged," said Sajjad Hussain, Sahira's elder brother.

Therapeutic Webinar launched to help crash victims

A Webinar was organised on Monday to bring together Calicut plane crash survivors and the families of those who died in the tragedy.

It aims to give them a common platform where they can connect with each other and share their burden and experiences.

Inspirational speakers and counsellors were invited to speak and lend an ear to their struggles.

"Many of them shared their experiences after the incident and how they were feeling, through this webinar. Often, sharing your burden with others eases your mental load," said O.K. Mansoor Ali, the coordinator of Malabar Development Forum.

"We also had a famous motivational speaker MC Rejilan, to encourage and cheer up these people. We felt the session proved to be therapeutic in many ways."

Ali's brother-in-law Shamsuddeen TK was also a passenger on the flight. "Luckily, he survived after sustaining minor injuries. But a lot of victims and their families, especially people who have suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one, are yet to come out of the trauma following the accident." 

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