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Air India Express crash: Relatives of survivors relieved their loved ones are safe

Anjana Sankar, Nandini Sircar and Saman Haziq/Dubai
Filed on August 8, 2020 | Last updated on August 8, 2020 at 06.24 am
Air India Express crash, Relatives, survivors, relieved, loved ones, safe

(Supplied photos)

Muneer, anther expatriate whose sister-in-law Manal was in the flight, said the his brother and family is "beyond consolable."

It is a sleepless night for Keralite expats in the UAE whose family and friends were onboard the ill-fated Air India Express flight that crash-landed in Kozikode, Kerala on Friday evening.

As shocking pictures of the tragedy that reportedly killed at least ten people and injured several are flooding the social media, residents who spoke to Khaleej Times, said they are frantically trying to find information to confirm their loved ones are safe.

"I cannot think straight. My wife and two kids are in the plane. I hope they are safe," Safan Vadakkan, a Keralite expatriate told Khaleej Times over phone.

"I am calling on every possible number I can. I have been told that my kids are safe. But nothing is clear now. I am praying," said Vadakkan.

His brother Jayan's family consisting wife and three children were also onboard the Vande Bharat flight that left Dubai International Airport on Friday afternoon.

"They were all here on visit visa that got expired. We have been trying to find tickets for them," said Vadakkan.

Muneer, anther expatriate whose sister-in-law Manal was in the flight, said the his brother and family is "beyond consolable." "We do not what has happened to her. I had lunch with her and my brother on Thursday night and she was really excited about going home," said Muneer.

"There is no confirmation about anything. It is utter chaos and we are really hoping to get some news about her," said Muneer.

Sharjah resident Nadia K stared at the television set in disbelief as the news flashed that Air India Express flight IX1344 that departed from Dubai on Friday afternoon crash-landed at Kerala's Kozhikode airport.

Nadiya's 66-year-old mother Sulekha Peedeyakkal was on the ill-fated flight that reportedly skidded off the runway and fell 30 feet into a valley, killing the pilot and injuring several others.

Speaking to Khaleej Times over the phone, Nadiay, a school teacher, said: " We dropped our mother at the airport today on Friday morning at around 10am as her flight was to take off at 1.30pm. My younger brother was waiting at the Kozhikode airport as her flight was to land at 7.10pm but my cousin called us at around 7pm to tell me the plan had crash landed. We have been on calls with my brothers and other relatives since evening as none was able to locate my mother. There was complete pandemonium at the Kozhikode airport as everyone was busy with rescue operations and we were unable to get through any numbers."

Nadiya said what caused her to panic was that she was unable to locate or reach her mother on the phone. " All phone lines at the Kozhikode airport were busy or not responding and we were told the injured were being rushed to nearby hospitals so my brother and other relatives rushed to various hospitals around but were unable to locate my mother. Finally, one of our relatives spotted my mother being taken in an ambulance to a private hospital in Calicut. My brother and relatives are now on their way to Calicut and we hope she is okay," said a worrier Nadiya.

Nadiya's mother Sulekha came to Sharjah before the lockdown in early March on visit visa but her visa expired on June 10 and she was then returning to India on the special Vande Bharat repatriation flight to Kozhikode that departed from Dubai International airport Terminal 2 on Friday afternoon. Sulekha hails from Kottayil, Mallappuram district.

RAK Resident Abu Bakr heaved a sigh of relief when he heard his family friends Ashiq Perumbal and Mohammed Shaheen were safe after the crash. He says, "Ashiq and Mohammed are brothers and I've known them for the last 17 years. I can't tell you how relieved I was to hear from Ashiq's wife that both of them were safe and had survived the horrific crash. He had borrowed the phone of a rescue worker to call his wife. They thankfully suffered minor injuries and are at Kottakal Mims Hospital now."

Abdul Manaf, another Dubai expat said he was relieved to finally get in touch with his wife Hadiya, and child, who are currently in a hospital in Kozhikode. "Such a relief after speaking to her. You can imagine what I went through after hearing the news," Manaf told Khaleej Times. They were in Dubai since four months on a visit visa.

Dubai resident Abdullah Kevi and his wife were relieved to hear from their nephew a couple of hours after the blast. He says, "my wife's sister Zenobia Mohammed Ali with her two boys (4, and 15) were on that flight. The older boy Azam borrowed somebody's mobile and called us. We are glad he is fine and was in a position to talk.

My sister-in-law and her younger son have been spotted in two separate hospitals in Calicut. Our relatives there are trying to locate them. We don't know what kind of injuries they have sustained but we are just indebted to God that they are alive."

Ajman expat Shameer Vadakkan, whose wife and three kids were also on the flight, said he spent the "most tensed three hours of his life" when he heard about the crash.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, Shameer said: " I had dropped my wife and three children at the Dubai International Airport at 9am in the morning with a heavy heart as they were leaving the UAE after being here for over 10 years. Since I lost my job and had joined a new one, I packed off my family to India. At around 6pm I got a call from a relative who informed me about the crash landing of the aircraft they were travelling in and I felt as if my heart would stop as I switched on the television and saw horrific scenes of the crash. I broke down but kept on calling. After hours of relentless calls to my relatives, I was finally told that my family had survived but had suffered injuries. While my wife and two kids suffered some fractures, my younger daughter has had some head injury but I am relieved that they all survived. I am now looking to take a flight back home as soon as possible to be with my family." 

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