Abdullah Ismail, who works as Manager of a sports shop in Dubai, was one of the eight survivors of the flight crash at Mangalore on Saturday morning. In this exclusive interview with Nandini Krishnan, Abdullah recounts the drama that preceded his miraculous escape.
How did the crash happen? What did you see?
When the flight arrived at the airport runway, as the tyres were already touching the runway, there was a disturbance. We heard a noise. Then I began to hear much louder noises from the tyre, and I saw some fire on the right side of the wing. I was sitting towards the left side of the wing. My seat number was 19A. Then, when I saw the left wing start collapsing, the plane broke into two pieces, down the middle. I got scared and immediately decided to come out. There was fire near my foot. But I managed to get out very quickly and I jumped down, and I survived.
Was there any warning that the flight was in trouble?
No, everything happened too quickly. I think the pilot didn’t have time to send any kind of warning to us or the airport people. It happened within a few seconds of the aircraft landing.
How did you manage to get out of the wreckage?
I saw there was a hole, and I put my feet through it. Then I caught hold of the side of the plane and managed to climb out. I jumped down properly, so nothing happened to me. Then I walked far from the flight. Then, I suddenly felt very tired, so I fell down. It seemed to be a small jungle. I saw I had some burn injuries on my toes and on my hands. That is what I remember.
Who brought you to hospital?
From the place where I had fallen, I walked again for some 30 minutes…maybe less, about 20 minutes. I came out of the jungle and came to a small town. People saw me and came running. They took me to a restaurant and gave me something to eat before bringing me to hospital. Then I called my brother, and he is on his way to pick me up.
Were you travelling alone?
Yes. I have no family in Dubai, and none of my friends were on the flight with me. I am the manager of a sports shop there. I was coming here for ten days, for some medical treatment.
Have you sustained any injuries? What have the doctors told you?
No, there are very minor injuries. There are some external injuries and some small burns on my hand.
Before you left the flight, what did you see happening around you? What about the other passengers?
Some of them were trying to come out. A man who was sitting in the next seat tried to come out, but he fell down on the right side, which was burning. Another man managed to get out with me, outside. I was in such a panic to get out, I didn’t see anything else.
Did you see any rescue vehicles arriving?
Nothing at all. We all just got out and everyone ran.
It must have seemed surreal to you.
Yes. Yes. I still can’t believe what happened and how I’ve survived.
Abdullah's family's reaction: 'Something has happened, but I am safe' – a brother’s call home