(MENAFN- Khaleej Times)
Survivors of the Air India Express flight 1344 crash continue to live with the after-effects of the accident, with many reporting that they have developed a fear of flying.
Murthasa Fasal, whose toddler daughter died in the crash, said that his wife Sumayya still struggles with health issues two years on. 'She cannot do anything for a prolonged period,' he said. 'This includes walking, standing and driving. This means that when travelling, we have to use wheelchairs at the airport. Moreover, she can't travel without a co-passenger.'
Fasal also admitted that she suffers from mental trauma due to the incident. 'We have been on a plane since the incident, but even the slightest turbulence during take-off and landing scares her,' he said. 'Even when we travel by car, if the beep sound goes off when we hit 120kmph, it disturbs her as it reminds her of the sounds during the flight.'
Two years ago, the Air India Express 1344, a special Vande Bharat Mission repatriation flight, skidded off the runway and broke in two while landing amid heavy rain. Out of the 109 on board, twenty-one people, including two pilots, died.
Another passenger Mufeeda, who was on the plane with her then 3-year-old, said she also suffered from several injuries. 'My neck was injured, and I had clots in my brain,' she said. 'The clots have cleared out, but the neck injury remains. Doctors say there is nothing much they can do about it, so I make do with painkiller injections.'
Visibility was a mere 2,000 metres at the time of the crash.
Mufeeda says her daughter remembers everything about the accident quite clearly. 'I was unconscious for almost half an hour,' she said. 'But my daughter remembers everything that happened. It is quite surprising to me how well she recalls it. For a couple of months after it, she was constantly scared, but now she is not afraid of flying anymore.'
However, for Mufeeda, it was a different story when she got on a plane for the first time since the incident earlier this year. 'For the majority of the first year, I was in treatment,' she said. 'I was able to come to Dubai to visit my family in May, but the flight was a difficult experience for me. The landing was horrible. The memories kept flashing. You just cannot forget it.'
Mufeeda is eternally grateful to the residents of Karipur for their rescue efforts. 'I don't think a lot of us would have made it out alive if it wasn't for the people there,' she said. 'The rain was so heavy, and the plane had veered off the runway. It was a muddy area, and I remember how people came running out to help us.'
On Sunday, at a ceremony, a document of mutual agreement was handed over by passengers and families to build a health centre in the area as a token of gratitude to the local people. An Air Crash Action Forum also announced that all compensation claims had been dealt with.
Another passenger Jameema also cannot thank the Malappuram residents for their swift action. 'I was trapped in between the seats, and I remember being completely numb,' she said. 'I clearly remember how the firefighters rescued me. They cut open the seat, and some of the people who had come to help scooped me up and rushed me to the ambulance. They are real heroes.'
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She was travelling back to India with her husband after paying a visit to her son's family after the birth of her grandchild. She suffered injuries to her face in the accident. 'I got plastic surgery to fix it,' she said. 'But the pain on my right side refused to go away. A couple of months later, when I got a scan done, the doctors realised I had a shoulder dislocation. I then got the surgery done for it. My husband was hit in the face, and he had pain in his teeth, but because it was peak Covid, we could not get any treatment done. Later he had to get all his teeth extracted.'
However, Jameema said she had not been too traumatised by the incident and had no fears. 'I haven't been on a plane since then because I didn't require to,' she said. 'However, I am sure I can handle it.'
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