Kozhikode: By mounting an impromptu rescue operation as soon as the Air India Express aircraft crash-landed at the Karippur airport, the local people of Kozhikode on Friday demonstrated the unique tenacity of the Kerala society which had helped the state avert large-scale loss of life in the devastating deluge of 2018.
Without waiting for the institutional rescue operations to commence (which took a little while to organise), the local residents collected at the accident site and began extricating the injured from the wreckage and transferring them to various hospitals in auto-rickshaws, cars and any other private vehicles that they could access.
By the time the fire brigade and disaster management personnel arrived with the ambulances and other paraphernalia, some of the injured had already been taken to hospitals. People also lined up along the route offering to donate blood and providing help in whatever way possible.
The timely rescue effort is believed to have limited the number of casualties to a much smaller number in comparison to what the sight of the wreckage would have suggested. Only 18 deaths have so far been reported and as many as 23 passengers were brought out with minor injuries.
A total number of 123 people are undergoing treatment in various hospitals in and around Kozhikode. The condition of another 23 is said to be serious.
As soon as the loud noise of the plane crash was heard, people had rushed to the area and offered to help with the rescue. Initially however, the security guards at the boundary gate did not allow them as they were not authorised to let anybody in.
Meanwhile, three passengers who had jumped out of the emergency exit of the aircraft, injuring themselves in the process, called out for help and the guards relented.
That is how the locals got into the act.
Frantic WhatsApp messages went flashing, asking people to rush to the scene. Friends, relatives, acquaintances all joined in.
They first brought out the children and others who appeared to require immediate attention. They were soon joined by personnel from the fire brigade, police, disaster management and other authorities, who together completed the rescue operation in about two hours.
Long queues were formed in front of hospitals by blood donors, who turned up in response to announcements made over local television channels about the need for designated blood groups.
The rescue operation by fishermen and other volunteers during the devastating floods of 2018 had attracted global attention. Thousands of stranded people were rescued from their houses, made inaccessible by the rushing waters, and shifted to safety. Their efforts had received praise from all quarters, including international relief and rescue organisations, government agencies and social scientists alike.
The volunteers were later honoured for their selfless work.
Coming back to the plane crash, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who visited Kozhikode along with Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, has praised the rescue operation involving the mishap-hit Air India Express plane. Nothing that this was another instance of how the Kerala society acts with one mind in such situations, he also congratulated all those who participated in the rescue operation for their superlative efforts.