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Air India Express crash: Families grieve children's deaths Filed on August 10, 2020 | Last updated on August 10, 2020 at 06.26 am
Air India Express crash, Families, grieve, children, deaths
Shaukat Ali with daughter Sheza Fathima, 2; Murtaza Faisal with daughter Ayesha Dua, 2; and Sahira Banu with sons Iahan and Azam, 1

Relatives and friends of bereaved families spoke of the unbearable grief the accident had inflicted.

The Air India Express crash on Friday snuffed out the lives of four children, with the youngest of them only one year old. True to the saying that 'the smallest coffins are the heaviest', their families are grappling with grief.

One-year-old Azam Mohammad is believed to be the youngest passenger who died in the tragedy. He was travelling with his mother Shahira Banu, who was also killed. Azam's two siblings, aged eight and four, both survived.

Relatives and friends of bereaved families spoke of the unbearable grief the accident had inflicted. Abdul Majeed, whose brother-in-law Shaukat Ali lost his two-year-old daughter Sheza Fathima, said "the pain is unspeakable".

"My brother-in-law flew to Kozhikode on Saturday but he could not be there for the funeral of his own daughter. We are trying to console him and give him strength. But it is not easy," said Majeed, who works for a government entity in Abu Dhabi.

"She was just two. That was the age when she should be playing with her parents. Now, she is no more. How will they (the parents) ever come to terms with it?"

Ali's wife Shahbanu and elder son Shameem, who were also on the flight, survived the crash. They had come to the UAE on a visit and were returning to the south Indian state of Kerala on the special repatriation flight.

"I could not meet them in the UAE because of the coronavirus situation. But I spoke to Ali even on the day his family was travelling," said Majeed.

Soon after the news of the crash broke, Majeed said he and other family friends were frantically calling all local hospitals to get information about Fathima. "We knew that Shahbanu and the elder child were safe. But until 12am on Saturday, we could not locate Fathima. We also heard that she was found at a local hospital, but that turned out to be fake news."

Abdul Razik, a colleague and close friend of Ali, said "everyone is shocked beyond belief". "We cannot even begin to imagine this tragedy," he said.

"Death is a reality. It will happen one day. My friend is going home to a house that does not have his little daughter in it. She had kissed him goodbye before boarding the flight," Razik wrote on Facebook.

Another father in Dubai, Indian expat Murtaza Faisal, lost his two-year-old daughter Ayesha Dua. He clicked a photo with her just before she boarded the plane, not knowing that it would be their last.

Ayesha, who had travelled to Kerala with her mother Sumayya Tasneemi, succumbed to injuries at a hospital in Calicut. A grieving Murtaza left for Kerala on Saturday.

The family was living in a villa in Al Rashidiya, Dubai. Ayesha was known to be a bubbly toddler who got along well with everyone in the neighbourhood. The mother and daughter had arrived on visit visas on March 1 but were stuck in the UAE because of Covid-19-triggered travel restrictions.

Another young victim was a five-year-old named Shivathmika Muraleedharan Remya. She was travelling with her mother, Remya Muraleedharan, who also died in the crash. 


Anjana Sankar

Anjana Sankar is a UAE-based journalist chasing global stories of conflict, migration and human rights. She has reported from the frontlines of the wars in Yemen and Syria and has extensively written on the refugee crisis in Bangladesh, Iraq and Europe. From interviewing Daesh militants to embedding with the UAE army in Yemen, and covering earthquakes, floods, terrorist attacks and elections, she has come out scathe-free from the most dangerous conflict zones of the world. Riding on over 14 years of experience, Anjana currently is an Assistant Editor with Khaleej Times and leads the reporting team. She often speaks about women empowerment on her Facebook page that has 40,000 plus followers.

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