'The passengers could not sense the danger before the crash, and the plane did not crash as soon as it landed'
A wheelchair-bound survivor who lost two family members in the US-Bangla Airlines plane crash in Kathmandu has told of how the passengers on the board the fateful flight had not sensed any danger in the moments before tragedy struck.
Mehedi Hasan is still receiving treatment at Dhaka Medical College Hospital’s Burn Unit but was able to attend the namaj-e-janaza on Monday afternoon for the 23 Bangladeshis who did not survive the crash.
Mehedi reached the Army Stadium an hour before the 23 coffins arrived and had tears in his eyes when the bodies of his causin Faruq Hossain Priok and Priok’s daughter Priyonmoyee Tamarra, were paraded.
Mehedi’s wife, Sayeeda Kamrunnahar Swarna, and Priok’s wife, Almun Nahar Annie, also survived the accident, which occured at the start of a week-long family holiday in Kathmandu.
“The passengers could not sense the danger before the crash, and the plane did not crash as soon as it landed,” Mehedi told journalists of the flight, which incidentally was his first journey by air.
“The landing gear was extended long before the plane crashed – maybe 10 or 15 minutes beforehand. I was sitting beside a window and the plane was flying low.
“Other than low flying and the landing gear, which was noticed by a few passengers, everything was normal before it prepared to land. There were major vibrations and when it was landing, it lost altitude and then rose before tilting just seconds before hitting the ground.”
Mehedi said the plane only crashed about ten seconds after landing. “(It) barrelled down the runway on its wheels, crashing through an iron fence and falling into a ditch,” he said.
Mehedi and his relatives sat in the middle row of the aircraft, occupying four seats.
“The front and rear parts of the plane were destroyed after it crashed. I managed to come out through the front part with those other survivors who could still walk,” he said.
“I saw a number of unconscious, injured passengers whose seat-belts broke off, causing them to be thrown out the broken front of the plane.
“The majority of the passengers died from burns as they were trapped inside and could not get out. The rows of seats scrunched together, causing the body parts of the victims to get stuck.
“When fire broke out from the rear following the crash, it spread all over the plane within two minutes, causing those trapped inside to succumb to the inferno.”