Memos from Asia

Recent Plane Crash In India: How Quick Community Response Saved Lives

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The airport in Delhi, on September 18, 2013. Indira Gandhi International Airport of Delhi is the largest international airport in India.

On the rainy evening of 7th August at Kerala’s Calicut International Airport, Air India’s Flight IX-1344 overran and rushed off the table-top runway.

The plane that was carrying 184 passengers from Dubai, had gone down a 35-meter slope and ended up breaking into pieces.

A total of 18 people lost their lives, and 127 are admitted to 13 hospitals when writing. (Times of India, Aug 9, 2020)

The Response

The CISF (Central Industrial Security Force) tasked with guarding Indian airports was the first to respond.

People living around the airport heard the plane crash and hundreds came forward to help.

According to CISF sources, the residents arrived at airport gates as early as five to seven minutes after the crash.

The deputy commandant of Calicut International Airport allowed a limited number of civilians to help in the rescue operation after considering the situation.

More than just a rescue operation

With the help of residents, CISF managed to rescue all the passengers in less than three hours.

“We did not have time to think about the rain or the virus at large, only saving lives mattered then,” Puthiyakath, who was one of the volunteers, told The Indian Express.

The flight that was part of India’s “Vande Bharat Mission” to fly back citizens stuck in foreign nations, had 10 children onboard, too.

Four children died due to the crash and others were rushed to hospital by residents. The hospitals didn’t have any information about the families of the children as the children were brought by people from the crash site to different hospitals.

The people of Kozhikode then circulated images of children on WhatsApp groups and in just a few hours all children were identified.

“Hats off to the locals… they handled all these children like their own,” a doctor treating the kids told NDTV news.

The locals wanted to help as much as they could, and the long queues to donate blood made news on the internet.

After seeing the locals coming out to help people in the heavy rain during a pandemic, the Chief Minister of Kerala, praised and thanked people through Twitter.

Air India also thanked people for their support.

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