Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 25 October 2020

Kerala plane crash: hundreds in India donate blood to save lives

Hundreds of blood donors queued up outside at least four hospitals in Kozhikode and Mallapuram districts until midnight on Friday

A volunteer donating blood to help save the lives of survivors of the Air India Express flight from Dubai that crash landed at Kozhikode in Kerala on Friday. Courtesy: Blood Donors Kerala
A volunteer donating blood to help save the lives of survivors of the Air India Express flight from Dubai that crash landed at Kozhikode in Kerala on Friday. Courtesy: Blood Donors Kerala

Hundreds of Indians have rushed to donate blood to help save the lives of survivors of the Air India Express flight from Dubai that crash landed at Kozhikode in Kerala on Friday.

Abu Junaij, 30, a travel agent in Kozhikode, first rushed to Baby Memorial Hospital and later to Aster MIMS Hospital in the city to donate blood.

He was overwhelmed by the sight of the long queues of donors despite heavy rains and the Covid-19 pandemic.

It was after midnight and yet there were at least 100 people waiting outside the hospital

Abu Junaij

“I wasn’t expecting so many people…it was after midnight and yet there were at least 100 people waiting outside the hospital,” Mr Junaij told The National.

“When I reached the blood bank, I saw 15 to 20 people waiting to donate. It was amazing how people came forward despite fears of coronavirus and heavy downpour. I was a little scared but everyone was wearing masks.”

Hundreds queued up outside at least four hospitals in Kozhikode and Mallapuram districts until midnight after reports of the tragic mishap emerged at 7:41 pm on Friday.

At least 18 people have been confirmed dead in the accident.

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The repatriation flight IX-1344 was a part of India’s Vande Bharat Mission to bring back its citizens from abroad during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ambulances, airport taxis and private vehicles from neighbourhoods were deployed to rush the injured to various city hospitals.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday said that 149 people were injured, of which 23 were in critical condition.

Television channels showed visuals of passengers being carried on stretchers and urged people to donate blood.

Over 200 volunteers came forward despite the state struggling with the coronavirus pandemic that has claimed over 102 lives and infected 32,000.

Hundreds queued up outside at least four hospitals in Kozhikode and Mallapuram districts until midnight after the tragic plane crash. Courtesy: Blood Donors Kerala
Hundreds queued up outside at least four hospitals in Kozhikode and Mallapuram districts until midnight after the tragic plane crash. Courtesy: Blood Donors Kerala

“We quickly spread the word out on social media and WhatsApp groups to facilitate the donation process. Surprisingly, despite Covid-19, people were willingly coming forward for help,” said Jishnu Raj Madathil, 29, a volunteer at Beat of Heart, a local blood donation group.

“I must have received more than 200 calls from eager donors. My phone did not stop ringing the whole night.”

Volunteers followed Covid-19 protocols while donating blood.

“We made sure that everyone wore masks and gloves and maintained a distance at the hospital,” said Fawaz K, a volunteer of Blood Donors Kerala.

“Only ten persons were allowed at a time outside the blood bank. We verified all the donors.

“No one was allowed from a containment zone. We were able to arrange 150 units of blood by midnight.”

Most hospitals in the state are overwhelmed by the coronavirus crisis but doctors said all efforts are being made to treat the injured passengers.

Kerala is reeling under twin tragedies as a landslide earlier Friday morning flattened a row of dwelling units of a tea estate in Idukki district.

At least 20 people were killed while over 50 are still feared trapped in the debris.

Friday’s crash is the worst passenger aircraft incident in the country since 2010, when an Air India Express flight, also from Dubai, overshot the runway and fell off a hillside in the city of Mangalore in the neighboring Karnataka state, bursting into flames and killing 158 people.

Updated: August 8, 2020 09:54 PM

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