Family of flydubai crash victims say time has not healed their pain

Relatives of victims in India seek solace in prayer and say the final Russian report provides no comfort to them

Shyam Mohan and his wife Anju Aiyappan, both 27, were among the 62 killed in the flydubai crash in 2016. Courtesy Indian Express
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The family of a young Indian couple, who were among the 62 passengers killed in a flydubai crash, say they are still coping with the tragedy three years on.

Relatives of Shyam Mohan and his wife Anju Aiyappan, both 27, from southern India's Kerala state, said the final report released this week blaming pilot error during bad weather did little to lessen their grief.

Russian investigators on Tuesday concluded the Boeing 737-800 flight from Dubai to Rostov-on-Don airport in southern Russia plunged to the ground on March 19, 2016, because of “incorrect aircraft configuration and crew piloting, the subsequent loss of the pilot in command’s situational awareness in night time".

The investigation commission of the Interstate Aviation Committee gave “turbulence and gusty wind”, the pilot’s “lack of psychological readiness” and “possible operational tiredness of the crew” as contributing factors in the failed second attempt to land.

The mental agony is still there but you can't do anything about it.

Relatives of victims said they relived the pain every time the case of flight FZ981 was reported in the media.

The family in India holds prayer ceremonies every year on March 19 as a remembrance of the day Shyam and Anju died.

The religious ceremony is held at a temple near the family home in Perumbavoor, in southern Kerala state.

Shyam and his wife had stopped over in Dubai, where they spoke to their family for the last time, before boarding the flydubai aircraft to Russia.

Trained in Ayurveda, an Indian alternative medicine, the couple were returning to work in a resort in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.

"The mental agony is still there but you can't do anything about it. Their parents have to just continue living in pain without them," Sreejesh R, a relative of Shyam, told The National.

“Every year the family conducts prayer ceremonies to remember them. The prayers help somewhat. It was an accident but how can family recover from losing people who were so young?”

Mr Sreejesh said the family had received a settlement from the airline and were surviving on the compensation paid out.

He said the couple’s parents were poor and relied on the monthly earnings sent home by the young couple, who had been the family's sole breadwinners.

The family were also paying back loans taken by the couple to secure their jobs in Russia. He did not say how much they were given in financial compensation.

Flydubai said it settled most compensation claims and was working to complete the process.

Last year, Dubai Civil Court awarded Russian siblings Dh800,000 in compensation for the death of their parents on the flight.

Flydubai acknowledged the Russian report's conclusions and said it had since made “proactive operational enhancements to both simulator and classroom training to reinforce awareness and enhance understanding of spatial disorientation".

Training for bad weather had also been improved, the airline said.