In-flight announcements made in Hindi and English may have caused confusion in the Air India Express flight 1344, which crashed at the Karipur airport in Kerala’s Malappuram district on Friday.
As many as 19 people, including the pilot and the co-pilot were killed in the flight accident.
Over 150 injured passengers were admitted to various hospitals in Kozhikode and Malappuram for treatment. Malappuram district administration said on Monday that the condition of eight passengers remained critical.
The Vande Bharat flight carried passengers mostly from Kerala who spoke in Malayalam. Announcements made in Hindi and English didn’t help, passengers told The New York Times.
“They had no idea they had to keep wearing their seatbelts,” said Riyas Madaparambathu, one of the passengers on the flight. He told the publication that more lives might have been saved if the flight crew had made announcements in Malayalam, “so that everyone could have understood the instructions.”
Muhammad Shafaf, another passenger on the flight, also told The NewsMinute that instructions were given in English and Hindi. “There were no instructions in Malayalam. The cabin crew also acted out the instructions.”
“Around 7 pm, there was an announcement that we are reaching the Calicut airport... It was a clear instruction. We were asked to put on our seat belts. There was nothing unusual,” Shafaf told TNM.
Accounts from various passengers on the flight revealed that the crash took place too fast for anybody to react.
Rafee, a Kozhikode-based passenger who on the flight, told The New Indian Express that people in the plane had been calm right before it crashed.
“There was no panic because no one knew what was happening,“ he said.
“We heard the pilot through the speaker. He was saying ‘Calicut land,’ but his voice disconnected before he could finish the sentence. Two or three minutes later, we crashed,” Youjin Yousuf told BBC Tamil.
“All he said was we will be touching down shortly,” said Abdul Rafee A Hameed (39), a former insurance executive with Emirates NBD Bank, told TNIE. Another passenger also told the daily he did not hear any announcement that prepared him for the crash-landing.
Several passengers told TNM that this second announcement wasn’t heard.
“There was no announcement about the weather either... They may have said something, but the signal was cut and we couldn’t hear anything,” Hadiya told the news website.
Renjith Panangad, a plumber who was returning home for the first time in three years, told Times of India that the plane swayed before the crash and then everything went dark.
The Aviation ministry said on Saturday that the black boxes from the flight had been recovered.
Arun Kumar, head of Directorate General of Civil Aviation, said the recovered transcripts would be opened to international investigators, as well as aircraft manufacturer Boeing.
“Only after conducting a thorough and unbiased probe, can we tell what exactly happened,” Kumar said on Sunday.