August 7, 2020 was indeed a devastating day for Keralites. The day began with the sad news of landslides and flood in several parts of Kerala. By the end of the day, we had another catastrophe in the form of an Aircraft Crash at Calicut Airport.
The landslide in Pettimudi in Rajamala of Idukki district took at least 22 precious lives and several others were injured. Many are feared to be trapped under the mud. Sources indicate that about 80 people were residing in shelters (layams) setup for labourers working in plantations in the area.
The Aircraft Crash in Calicut claimed 18 lives so far. The Pilot and First Officer also were killed in the accident among others. Sources say that the aircraft was torn into two pieces after skidding and hitting a wall during landing. It then fell down about 35 feet from the Table Top Runway in the Calicut Airport. Many are being treated in the nearby hospitals.
Landslide at Pettimudi
At about 2 am on Friday, the landslides occurred but the news came to light only by 6am. It is yet to identify the magnitude of the disaster. Due to heavy rains and difficulties in reaching the site, rescue operations were delayed. Road facilities to this area are limited. It is also a part of Reserve Area where we have the Eravikulam National Park and due to this, the development activities are restricted. Add to the difficulties, a bridge was also destroyed due to the heavy rain making the area inaccessible.
Kerala is witnessing heavy landslides, damages and loss of precious lives for the third consecutive year during the monsoon season. In India, the monsoon season is between June and September. Rain is not something new to Indians. But each year, we are experiencing more and more casualties and damages due to heavy rain, flood, hurricane, cyclone and whatsoever.
It seems like mother earth is taking her turn for all the atrocities we have done to her. There are so many questions.
- Why all of a sudden such drastic changes in climate?
- Where did we go wrong?
- How can we minimize casualties and loss due to natural calamities?
- Who is responsible for this?
Aircraft Crash at Calicut
If we take the Aircraft Crash incident, the first reports say that the accident was caused due to poor visibility during landing. There are unconfirmed reports about possible mechanical troubles. Whatever be the reason, we have lost a very efficient, experienced, senior Pilot and so many precious lives. Passengers were returning to their home country after getting a chance to come out after the Covid-19 Lock-down and travel bans as a part of the Vande Bharat Repatriation mission. They were only miles away from their homes and met with this horrible accident.
Table Top Runways, as always explained are most dangerous especially during poor visibility. Heavy rains in the area made things worse and after initial failed attempt for landing, the pilot was negotiating the second landing procedure. Probably he could not see the runway and the plane skidded to the side and hit the wall, which finally torn into pieces and fell down about 35 feet.
Calicut Airport is one of the Table Top Airports in India, which was originally designed for handling only the smaller aircrafts. Though there were developments done to extend it recently, to allow larger ones, somehow we had this frightful accident yesterday.
Again, experts say that it was the Pilot’s experience and mental condition that helped in averting a much more disastrous situation. The aircraft could have caught fire and probably exploded in the incident.
As a common man and one who use to fly frequently, I do have some doubts regarding the crash of the aircraft.
- Should we have a Table Top Airport when it is possible to have a proper one suitable for all types of aircrafts?
- How did the Air Traffic Control give Landing Permission to the Pilot when it was heavily raining and the visibility was poor?
- Why did the pilot chose to land the second time when he was unsure of a safe landing in the first attempt?
- Could ATC not divert the Aircraft to nearest International Airports (Kannoor and Kochi)?
- Was there any mechanical failures which the pilot was aware of at the time of landing?
- Who is responsible for this incident?
- Is that only Money matters and not the safety of human lives? – This is not the first accident in India involving a Table Top airport. Why didn’t the authorities take necessary actions?
While we are waiting for more detailed reports of both incidents that took place in Kerala yesterday, we must thank and honour all the heroes. The Pilot, First Officer, Cabin Crew and passengers need to be thanked. People in the nearby areas, officials from health, police, disaster recovery team and so many others must be thanked. Fire Fighters, Ambulance and other Transport Drivers must be thanked. All those risked their lives in carrying out rescue operations especially during this Covid-19 pandemic. Hospital staff, Doctors and Social Workers did an excellent job in treating the injured and critically admitted in the hospitals.
My heartfelt condolences to the family of the diseased. Wishing a speedy recovery for all those are being treated in the hospital. Saluting the brave Pilot who sacrificed his life to avert a total disaster.
Let us pray to god that such incidents are not repeated again and all those who can take right decisions, do their job impartially and rightfully.