Eighteen people were killed and several others injured when a Dubai-Calicut Air India Express flight skid off the runway and fell into a valley, subsequently breaking into two portions. The incident happened at Kerala’s Kozhikode airport. The Boeing-737-800 had 191 passengers and crew on board.
However, two people were not as ill-fated as the flight that split into two. Right before take off from Dubai, two men, Afzak PK and Noufal Vettan, were not allowed to board the flight due to pending fines for overstaying after visa cancellation.
In a conversation with TOI, Afzal, who was planning to get married once his quarantine period got over, said, "While at the passport counter to check visa status, I was told that I had to pay a fine of 1000 dirhams on June 10 and the exit should have been by July 10. I was under the impression that there is a relaxation till December. I had only 500 dirhams with me."
“Ten minutes, that was what saved me,” added Afzal, whose flight seat number was 18C. It was at the front of the aircraft which took much of the damage, TOI reported.
Noufel, meanwhile, who had no money to pay the fine, ended up missing his flight. "That unpaid fine saved me. I got the boarding pass and 5F was the seat; but the official at the immigration counter said I have to pay AED 1,250 for overstaying after visa cancellation. As I didn’t have the money I missed the flight. It became my new ticket to life as I also got my job back as an office assistant," he told TOI.
The flight from Dubai with 191 people on board, including a six-member crew, overshot the tabletop runway on Friday night while landing at the Kozhikode airport in heavy rain, fell into a valley 35 feet below and broke into two, killing 18 people, including both pilots.