KT EXCLUSIVE: Meet Riya George, the girl behind Emirates landing video
Dubai - The video, filmed on August 3, showed passengers blocking aisles and grabbing their belongings from the overhead compartments even as oxygen masks dropped down and smoke started to fill the cabin slowly.
What is the first thing you do when a plane makes an emergency landing? You run for survival.
But a video that captured the moment inside Emirates flight EK521 seconds after it landed showed passengers grabbing their belongings.
Behind the footage from inside the cabin that went viral for days, is a 17-year-old student, Riya George. George, an Indian national, lives in the US and was returning after a vacation to her homeland in Kerala.
Speaking to Khaleej Times over the phone from Spring Valley in New York, George said passengers' reaction was the motivation behind taking out her phone and recording the moment.
"The moment was really important to record. I thought it was selfish of people to put other people's lives in danger and prioritise their luggage despite clear attempts by the crew to evacuate the plane," said George, a 12th grader at Ramapo high school in Spring Valley, New York. "We needed to get out of there as soon as possible. The plane started to go up in flames minute after we got out. It was a matter of minutes, and it could have all gone wrong."
The video, filmed on August 3, showed passengers blocking aisles and grabbing their belongings from the overhead compartments even as oxygen masks dropped down and smoke started to fill the cabin slowly.
George has been residing in the US for six years. She was on vacation with her parents and elder brother, Jerin, in India and had a connecting flight from Dubai to the United States. She said as the plane landed, she kept her calm while others were screaming and panicking. She praised the crew's efforts on evacuating the plane on time.
"We can hear from the video the crew's instructions and constant reminder for people to leave their belongings. At some point, they said 'JUMP JUMP JUMP', and we all jumped out. They made great efforts to get people to walk away." She also praised the pilot's efforts in stopping the plane in a very short time. George said the plane landed on its belly and bounced again before landing on its left wing. As black smoke started to fill in the cabin, "we knew we had to get out."
George noted that her family was delayed for 12 hours after the landing. The airlines moved them to a hotel close to the airport before they could fly again to the US. "I am still jet lagged!" she laughed.
The Emirates team called up her family to ask details on the luggage. Like other passengers, the airlines informed them that they will receive $7,000 as compensation.
"I know some people were not aware that the plane was on fire, but it still remained an emergency landing. It is dangerous to carry luggage that could hurt you and fellow passengers while getting out of a plane."
She added that she hoped her video would be a reference in training flight attendants in the future.
"My intention was to show the world what people should not do during emergencies. I hope I got the message across."
But did she expect her video to go viral? No was her answer.
"I uploaded the footage on YouTube and Facebook the day I filmed it, but it was not watermarked, so people just shared it."
"I just like recording moments. During my free time, I record and take pictures."
The teenager hopes to pursue criminal justice studies in the US after graduating from high school.