Six children, who survived the plane crash in Kerala on Friday, were rushed to Kozhikode's Baby Memorial Hospital and several locals - part of the rescue teams - helped in identifying their family members, doctors at the hospital have told NDTV.
Of the six children, who are between the age of 2 and 11 years, three were given critical care. "Hats off to the locals... they handled all these children like their own. None of the children were able to tell what is their name or their parents' name...they didn't have passports," Dr Ajay, pediatric doctor, Baby Memorial Hospital, told NDTV.
"It was initially very challenging for us as all these children were rushed to the hospital by the rescue teams and not the families. We had lots of locals involved in tracing their family members. Volunteers shared their photos on WhatsApp groups and within three-four hours, we had the full list," he added.
Eighteen people, including both pilots, died when the Air India Express Boeing 737-800 aircraft crashed on Friday at 7:41 PM while trying to land at the Calicut International airport. 184 passengers - 174 adults and 10 children - were on board at the time of accident. Four children were among those who died.
The flight was operating under the Vande Bharat Mission to repatriate Indians stranded abroad because of the coronavirus lockdown.
"Two children admitted here know they have lost their family members. While one child has lost a sibling, another one has lost a parent. All those admitted are gradually coping with the trauma. It becomes easier when the family is around at such a time," Dr Ajay said.
As per the Covid-protocols, the patients are being treated as potential cases. On Saturday, Kerala's Health Minister KK Shailaja had urged all those involved in rescue efforts, including locals, to "self-quarantine as a precaution", adding that all the people will be tested for coronavirus.
On Saturday, Satya Pradhan, the chief of the National Disaster Response Force, told NDTV that most passengers have suffered trauma injuries. "There have been trauma injuries to almost all the passengers because of the landing impact. Among those who are hospitalised, several passengers are critical," Satya Pradhan said.
He also acknowledged the role played by locals. "I must praise the local administration and volunteers at the airport, they did a stellar job during the rescue operations."
Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri has also praised the rescue teams, which had local volunteers, for their efforts.
Yesterday, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan tweeted: "Yesterday, the fast response of local people and officials made all the difference. They braved bad weather and COVID fears to rescue their fellow beings. The long queues of people who wanted to donate blood was just one example."
We have seen this many times, when there is an adversity, the people of Kerala come together to fight it. Humanity, the greater goodness that binds us all, is the bedrock of our society. Let's take a moment to congratulate the people of Malappuram and Kozhikode.— Pinarayi Vijayan (@vijayanpinarayi) August 8, 2020
127 people - injured in the accident - have been admitted to 13 hospitals in and around Kozhikode.
The Boeing 737 NG skidded off the runway and fell into a steep slide at the tabletop airport before it broke in pieces. The plane, which had been trying to land for some time, landed 1 km down the length of the runway at the tabletop airport, sources in the regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation have told NDTV.