Sunday, May 12, 2013
The 51-year-old Mayankutty K.P. is one of the seven lucky survivors from the Air India Express plane crash in Mangalore three years ago, on May 23, 2010.
Of course he was lucky to have escaped largely unhurt from the crash that killed 159 passengers and crew on board.
But also feels unhappy, because like many of the next-of-kin of the dead victims of the Mangalore plane crash, he has had to engage in a protracted legal battle to claim due compensation for the crash.
Speaking to Emirates 24|7, Mayankutty, who now works for a real estate company in Umm al Quwain, at half the salary that he used to earn before the tragedy, said he has filed a case in the Kochi High Court with another plane crash survivor, Krishnan Koolikunnu, for claiming due compensation in tune with international civil aviation rules.
He said Krishnan, his co-passenger on that fateful flight, is now unemployed and is searching for a job in Qatar, where he is on a visit visa.
“I am thankful to God that I could escape from the blazing plane and was saved by a fraction of a minute. I was sitting on seat 22F by the window,” he reminisces.
Mayankutty hails from Kannur, Kerala. Most of the air crash victims hailed from Mangalore, Malabar region of Kerala. He travelled to the Mangalore airport, which is almost the same distance as Calicut Airport from his home town.
“All of a sudden there were sudden violent jolts to the plane, and it felt as if the aircraft had hit something. I could see from the window that the front of the plane was on fire, and all I could hear was screaming and crying of my co-passengers, especially children seeking help,” Mayankutty recalls the dreaded event.
“They were shouting in different languages,” he says. “Their cries for help still wake me up at night and I think this will haunt me till my death,” he says.
“I was shocked and did not know what to do because the lights had gone off inside the aircraft. Suddenly, I could see light from a small crack in the middle of the aircraft. After unfastening my seat belt, I rushed to the area and with full force jumped through the small gap,” he says.
“There were many families on the aircraft because it was summer vacation time, and what I could hear clearly were the cries of children calling their parents for help. I thought my death was near.”
After jumping from the aircraft, Mayankutty, then 48 years old, landed in a forest and sustained head injuries, but he ran for life through the thick forest and reached a railway track.
“After I jumped from the plane, the entire plane was on fire and all the people still inside died. I still don’t know how I escaped. As the third anniversary of the tragedy approaches, I keep praying for those who died in the plane crash.”