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One of the persons injured after an Air India Express flight skidded off a runway while landing at the Kozhikode airport is brought for treatment to the Medical College Hospital in Kozhikode, Kerala, Friday. (AP)
One of the persons injured after an Air India Express flight skidded off a runway while landing at the Kozhikode airport is brought for treatment to the Medical College Hospital in Kozhikode, Kerala, Friday. (AP)

Air India flight crash: Locals rush passengers to hospital

  • Locals say they ferried unconscious and severely injured passengers to hospital in taxis and quickly-arranged ambulances
  • By 10pm, Kerala’s WhatsApp groups were flooded with frantic messages asking for the identities of passengers

KOZHIKODE : Before rescue teams rushed out to look for passengers trapped under the rubble of the aircraft crash in the town of Karipur, Kerala, dozens of local residents had already reached the scene in heavy rain to lend a helping hand.

Some of them said they ferried unconscious and severely injured passengers to hospital in taxis and quickly-arranged ambulances.

In the process, they may have saved the lives of many who were injured in the Calicut (also known as Kozhikode) International Airport crash. At least 16 people were killed, including the pilot and the first officer.

An eyewitness who works near the airport, better known as Karipur airport, said he rushed to the scene as soon as he read about the accident on WhatsApp.

“It had been raining heavily. Many had gone home early from work, following the advice of the state government about heavy rain today and tomorrow," he said, requesting not to be named. “By the time I reached, the plane was split in two pieces."

Another person who visited the site, Basheer, said all airport prepaid taxis were called back to the airport by driver networks to take the injured to hospital. At first, many of the injured were admitted to the nearby Mercy Hospital.

By 10pm, Kerala’s WhatsApp groups were flooded with frantic messages asking for the identities of passengers while they were being taken to hospitals.

There were rapid responses: “Asalamu Alaikum. This is Noufal here. Please spread this message to maximum people. We are carrying in this ambulance a Ponnani resident Henna and her two-year-old daughter. We will be at Calicut Medical College. Please let her kin contact her immediately," said a voice clip.

Emotions are also running high because the plane was an evacuation flight from Dubai, offering the most vulnerable sections an exit from the covid-19 pandemic-induced distress.

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