Mangalore, May 22: It was a miraculous escape for eight passengers onboard the ill-fated Air India flight which crashed on Saturday morning as they managed to jump out of the aircraft soon after it hit the ground.
While some of the survivors managed to jump out of the Boeing 737-800 and reach a nearby road, others jumped into a pit to evade the massive fire engulfing the aircraft.
Some of them were helped by people, including auto-rickshaw drivers and bikers to reach hospital. "I can’t believe I survived the crash," said Pradeep reliving the moments when the plane hit the ground after it overshot the runway.
"There were vibrations before the plane crashed...as soon as it hit the ground, I managed to get out and jump into a pit. There was smoke all over as the plane caught fire. After ten minutes, there was an explosion," he said.
According to most of the survivors, the fuselage of the aircraft had split into two. Abdul Puthur, another survivor, said he, along with two others, managed to get out of the mangled remains of the aircraft from an opening on the left side. "It all happened within a few seconds," he said.
Another passenger Umar Farooq claimed the plane lost control while landing due to a tyre burst. "The plane overshot the runway only to stop inside a forest area...it burst into flames," he said.
"It has been a hair raising experience and I am fortunate to be still alive," said Umar Farooq, one of the lucky survivors.
Farooq, who suffered burns on his face and hands, managed to jump out of the aircraft as it caught fire after one of its wings hit a hillock before landing. He said the aircraft experienced turbulence and crashed in a forest area.
"The aircraft was full. But I don’t know the number of passengers on board", he said, adding he heard a loud thud. There was a commotion after the aircraft caught fire and smoke engulfed it, he said, adding "I saw a broken passage in the aircraft and I jumped out of it".
He said he walked for about half a kilometre inside the rocky terrain and locals who saw him took him on a motorcycle for some distance, before rushing him to a hospital by an autorickshaw.
"It is a rebirth for me. Allah did not leave my side and it is the blessings of my elders that I came out of this ghastly crash almost unscathed. However, shivers are still running down by spine as I recall the horrifying experience", said Abdullah Puttur Ismail, another survivor.
Ismail has been discharged after being administered first aid at K S Hegde hospital.
Recounting the horrible experience, 32-year-old Ismail, said the plane was on the runway when he heard a deafening sound from a tyre and then the plane crashed. "I somehow gathered my wits and removed my seatbelt and as I peeped out, I saw the right wing which was scraping the ground, had caught fire. When I looked up I saw a gaping hole. Somehow, I climbed up the seat and jumped out from the hole, straight into a thorny bush".
"My only thought was to escape. Unmindful of gashes on my legs and arms, I walked half a kilometre. Some locals who had gathered, helped me to a place, made me sit and gave me some water. I then contacted my brother who was already on his way to receive me and with his help came to the hospital".
Ismail, a port manager in Dubai, had taken 10 days emergency leave as he was suffering from severe shoulder pain.
"I am just waiting see my wife and my two year-old little daughter", he said in a choked voice.
Another survivor said he jumped out of the aircraft, which broke up after the crash.
"It’s a miracle", he said. "I could see fire breaking out. Had I been late by even five minutes, I would not have been alive now".
Here is the list of survivors:
• Mr Putturismail Abdulla
• Mr Joel Pratap DSouza
• Mr G.K. Pradeep
• Mr Krishnan Koolikkunnu
• Mr Mayankutty KP
• Mr Ummer Farook Mohammed
• Ms Sabrina Nasrinhuq.
• Mr. Mohamed Usman, Mangalore
The helpline numbers are: 01125656196 / 01125603101,
Mangalore: 0824-2220424 / 2220422 / 2010167
Air India Dubai airport numbers: 00971-4-2165828/29