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Air India Express crash: Bachelors turn dwellings to control rooms to help plane crash victims, relatives

Saman Haziq/Dubai
Filed on August 11, 2020 | Last updated on August 11, 2020 at 06.34 am
Air India Express crash, Bachelors, dwellings, control rooms, plane crash, victims, relatives,

(Supplied photos)

Thaha Abdullah and his group of 15 friends took charge of the situation and got the list of passengers and their relatives from the airline.

Dubai resident Nazar K's voice choked with emotion as he recalled the events last Friday when the Air India Express flight carrying his wife back to India crash-landed in Kozhikode.

He cannot forget the comforting call he received an hour or so after the crash. "I was crying inconsolably and calling my relatives in India like a mad man after I heard about the plane crash. I wanted to check if my wife was okay. No one answered the calls at the airport and my relatives waiting outside the Kozhikode had no clue."

Just when he lost all hope, I received a call from a Dubai number inquiring about my wife. "The caller asked my name and said 'your wife is fine; she has sustained injuries and is being taken to the hospital'. When I asked who he was, he asked me to open a Malayalam TV news channel and I couldn't believe my eyes. A video clip rushing my wife to the hospital was repeatedly being broadcast and that gave me a chance to recognise my wife and see that she was alive."

This is how a group of Kerala expats, mostly in their 30s, helped their compatriots - converting their bachelors' accommodations into call centres and updating families about their loved ones. The group became a bridge to communicate, console and locate the victims and their families.

Thaha Abdullah and his group of 15 friends took charge of the situation and got the list of passengers and their relatives from the airline. In 30 minutes, the group made calls to the emergency numbers provided for all 190 passengers.

Thaha and his friends swung into action and activated their community sources, asking them to reach the Kozhikode airport to help with relief work and also to the hospitals to keep a track of the injured and deceased passengers.

"I told my friends in Malayalam media to show the injured passengers faces clearly so their relatives in UAE can see and feel comforted that their family members were okay. We decided to have a group of five friends stationed in three separate locations - Dubai, Ajman and Al Ain - and start making calls to the passengers and their relatives.

"We also called their relatives - on the emergency number provided for every passenger - and asked them if they needed any support in India or here in the UAE. We posted our friends in different hospitals and asked them to check the list of passengers being admitted there."

Calling it Mission Karipur, Thaha said that apart from making calls and providing details to families, arranging conference calls between families about the well being of their loved ones, the group also called on their friends and acquaintances to come forward and donate blood.

Thaha, who hails from Malappuram, said he and his friends have always been on the forefront of helping his community. " We actively participated in the UAE's 10 Million Meals Campaign and actively helped people in Al Ras and Deira areas during the Covid lockdown." 

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