05/24/2010, 00.00
INDIA

Mangalore, survivor tells of air disaster

Nirmala Carvalho
Joel D'Souza, 24, comes from a Catholic family. He thanks God for 'saving my life. " His mother: it is a "new Pentecost." Investigators are searching for the second part of the black box, which contains the flight information. The toll from the airline tragedy is of 158 dead and eight survivors.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - This morning the team of the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), with the help of local police, took over the search of the digital recorder of the Air India Express flight that crashed last May 22 at Mangalore - in Karnataka, southwest India - killing 158 people.

Late yesterday afternoon investigators recovered the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and the black box containing the data acquisition Flight unit (DFDAU). In aviation jargon, the "black box" indicates the two components that store everything that happens during the flight, communications between pilots and between pilots and control tower. The finding will help clarify what happened shortly after landing when the pilot was unable to stop the plane - from Dubai – which veered off the runway.  

On board the aircraft there were 160 people, and six crew members. The toll from the tragedy is of 158 dead (including the entire crew) and only eight survivors.  AsiaNews spoke to Joel D'Souza, one of the eight survivors. Yesterday morning the young man attended his first session of therapy in hospital. The doctors asked the family not to ask questions relating to the accident, because "it could be traumatic for him."

Rosy, his mother, sits beside him and prays to God to console the families who lost loved ones in the air tragedy. Joel D'Souza thanks God for saving him. He was able to escape from the blazing carcass of the plane and suffered only minor injuries. "The plane broke in two - says the survivor - and a dense black smoke invaded the cabin. I jumped out through an opening in the window. Six other passengers followed me. We fled, with the help of the inhabitants of the nearby village".

The survivor - of the Catholic faith – says he “fell to his knees" and "thanked God" for "saving my life. So I called my brother in Dubai, who advised my mother that I had been saved. " Thank God, the man adds, "my mother knew I was safe before they heard the plane on which I travelled had crashed."

Joel, a 24-year old native of Vamanjur, a town near Mangalore, was returning from a month spent in Dubai with his sister after completing a course of study on computer aided design in mechanical engineering. "I was in seat 23 – he tells AsiaNews - and we had barely touched the ground when it seemed that the pilot lost control of the aircraft." He adds that "despite attempts by the pilot to stop the vehicle, it did not happen, the airplane crashed and the cabin was filled with a thick blanket of smoke. "Me and six others managed to escape - he confesses - and then we saw the plane break in two."

At the time he was admitted to Kmc Hospital Mangalore with minor burns, a broken right leg and spine injuries which are not serious. "These injuries are nothing - God saved my life and I will be forever grateful." Joel was born and raised in a family with deep Catholic faith: his sister Saira, brother Santosh and mother Rosy who are gathered around his bed, reciting the rosary in thanks to God for the miracle, tell AsiaNews: "This is a new Pentecost for our family from the reality of death, God has given us new life, we pray to be close to God. "

 

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