DUBAI: A UAE expat from Kerala saved from jaws of death because he missed boarding the ill-fated Air India Express flight by only 5-minutes delay.
The Vande Bharat repatriation mission flight crash and killed the two pilots and 16 passengers on Friday night.
Grateful to overstay fine
Speaking to Gulf News, Afzal KP, a 26-year-old Abu Dhabi resident said he first thought it to be miserable and ‘disheartening’ but was later grateful to the outstanding penalties that prevented him to board the flight.
Afzal said he was happy to return to his hometown in Kannur and was ready to board plane but was stopped at the immigration counter by five minutes to pay pending fine of around Dh1000 (Rs 20,400) for overstay.
“I was supposed to leave UAE by July 10, after my work visa with Royal Dates, where I worked, expired in June. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, I was unable to travel back,” Afzal told Gulf News.
The Air India Express Flight IX1344 from Dubai to Kozhikode, with 190 people on board, overshot the tabletop runway at the airport while landing in heavy rain and fell 35 feet down a slop and broke into two.
Slippery runway causes crash
The ill-fated flight tried to land amid heavy rains and low visibility at around 16 minutes before it landed and skidded off the table top runway causing a major accident.
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri said, “Because of the weather conditions, he (the pilot) could not land the first time, so he did a turnaround and tried to approach it from a different direction.”
A deadly combination of a slippery runway, strong tailwind, bad weather conditions, and landing ahead of the threshold spot could have resulted in the skidding of the ill-fated Air India Express in Kozhikode.