By mounting an impromptu rescue operation as soon as the Air India Express aircraft crash-landed at the Karippur airport, the locals of Kozhikode 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 autorikshaws, cars and other private vehicles.
By the time the fire brigade and disaster management personnel arrived with the ambulance and other paraphernalia, some of the injured had already been taken to hospitals. People lined up along the route offering to donate blood and providing other help.
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. Eighteen deaths have so far been reported. 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 rushed to the area and offered to help the rescue. But the security guards at the boundary gate did not allow them as they were not authorised to let anybody in.
Meanwhile, three passengers who jumped out of the emergency exit of the aircraft, in the process injuring themselves, 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. Thus friends, relatives, acquaintances all joined.
They first brought out the children and others appearing to require immediate attention. They were then soon joined by the personnel of 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.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who visited Kozhikode along with Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, congratulated all those who participated in the rescue operation for their superlative effort.