KOZHIKODE, India: Indian authorities had practised for years for a jet overshooting the "table-top" runway at Kozhikode airport, but local resident Fazal Puthiyakath was not prepared for the "blood and death" of the real thing.
The 32-year-old businessman and his neighbours were first on the scene after an Air India Express plane crashed over the runway down a 10m bank and broke in two during a fierce storm late Friday (Aug 7), killing at least 18 people and injuring more than 120.
Puthiyakath and others rushed out after hearing "a blast-like" roar.
"All that we could hear were screams all around. People were soaked in blood everywhere, some had fractures, some were unconscious," he told AFP.
The impact was so brutal that the nose of the Boeing 737 finished about 20m from the back half of the jet.
The two pilots were killed but rescuers said the death toll would have been much higher if the jet had caught fire.
Kozhikode airport in southern India's Kerala state is considered a potential hazard because it has a "table-top" runway with a steep bank at either end.
"I have seen the mock trials from a distance – airport authorities conduct it with a crashed dummy aircraft," said Puthiyakath.
"But this was just something else in reality."
"You realise that no matter how prepared you are, its completely different on the ground when you actually have blood and death around."
"SAVE AS MANY LIVES AS POSSIBLE"
The special flight was bringing 190 Indians stranded by the COVID-19 pandemic in Gulf countries back to India. Many live in Kerala where the number of virus cases is taking off.
"We didn't bother about who had COVID or not. All that we had in mind was to save as many lives as possible," said Puthiyakath.
Despite the shock, he drove one man to a local hospital in his car.
"All I heard throughout the drive was him crying about his wife and child. I can never forget that. I haven't checked Read More – Source