Dubai: Passengers who survived a “near disaster” as an Emirates flight made an emergency landing in Dubai on Wednesday said “nothing mattered more than just being alive”.
Speaking to XPRESS barely an hour after Flight EK 521, coming from Thiruvananthapuram, made the landing in Dubai, survivor Shaji Kochikutty, a Dubai-based businessman, said they were grateful to the Almighty – and the Emirates crew – to be alive.
A statement from Dubai Airports confirmed that, “Emirates airline flight EK521 arriving from Thiruvananthapuram was involved in an incident during landing at Dubai International at 12.45pm. Emergency response teams have been activated and all passengers and crew have been safely evacuated. Operations at DXB have been affected with all departing flights delayed until further notice.”
Emirates airline, which also confirmed the |“operational incident”, said there were 282 passengers and 18 crew on board, all of whom were safe. It said the passengers belonged to 20 nationalities, including 226 Indians and 11 Emiratis. “All passengers and crew are accounted for and safe. The main priority remains with those involved and offering support to concerned family and friends.”
Kochikutty, who was flying in with his wife and three daughters, said: “It was a near disaster. God is great. He saved my family and we are grateful to be alive. What more can we ask for?”
He said his family had been vacationing in their hometown in Kerala and he had flown down just three days ago to bring them back.
He said it was the credit of the pilots and other airline staff that the passengers were evacuated with utmost care when the plane caught fire as it landed.
“They opened all emergency exits and guided us out. I first sent my three daughters. My wife went next but hurt her knee while jumping out. I bruised my feet as I ran without my shoes. We were promptly given first aid and we are all fine now.” He said he managed to salvage the family’s passports as he carried them out with him. “I think we have lost all other belongings. They would have been completely burnt. But that’s not important. We can always replenish these things. But a life lost can never be replaced.”
Another passenger Abraham Thomas, a businessman from Thirvananthapram, who was flying to Dubai to attend a marriage, said he is still in a state of shock. He said after evacuation, all the passengers were taken to a room in the airport and the Emirates staff took a headcount.
“There are many children and women on the flight. Everyone is shocked but relieved at the same time.”
The passengers were later taken to Rashid Hospital’s Trauma Centre where they received further treatment.
At 2.30pm, Emirates said, “We are expecting a four-hour network wide delay, more information will be available on the Emirates website and social media channels.” Dubai Airports also suspended its operations (arrivals and departures) at Dubai International in the afternoon.
Some flights scheduled to arrive in Dubai during this window were diverted to other airports.
– With inputs from Anjana Sankar, Senior Reporter and Mariam Mumtaz, intern