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A day of heartbreak

  • Published at 06:13 pm March 13th, 2018
  • Last updated at 03:09 am March 14th, 2018
A day of heartbreak
Nothing prepares us for a tragedy like this. Everybody dies, but there is always something that seems a little more unfair when people die in accidents like this one. It is a gut punch, something that leaves friends, loved ones, and survivors asking: How can this be happening? Is this a bad dream from which we will wake up? Among the dead are nationals from Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives, and China. And while in the past, only those who actually knew the crash victims would be feeling any kind of direct pain, in the age of social media, there is a certain kind of immediacy to the tragedy that was not there before. Pictures on social media, and Facebook posts of the victims made just hours before their untimely ends, collapse the distance between us and them. And we feel like we knew them even if we didn’t. “Vacation starts now …” posted one couple from Dhaka airport. Some were on their honeymoon. Friends took their obligatory airplane selfie before takeoff. Who knew they had just two hours left to live? The biggest airplane crash in the history of aviation in Bangladesh, with 50 dead, this tragedy will be talked about for a very long time. It is safe to say US-Bangla Airlines will receive a blow from which it will never recover. Grief is already turning into rage, with questions being asked. Who is to blame for what happened? In the coming days, answers will trickle in, and speculation will run wild. Fingers will be pointed, and everybody will be trying to pass the buck. They already are.
Grief is already turning into rage, with questions being asked. Who is to blame for what happened?
Is it any surprise, for example, that the US-Bangla Airlines CEO has said the authorities at Tribhuvan International Airport were at fault? “He is a skilled pilot, and we have never had any technical malfunctions over the last three years,” the CEO said of Captain Abid Sultan, who is now among the deceased.On the other hand, a formal press release from the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) puts the blame on the pilot, claiming he did not follow the tower controller’s instructions during landing. It is being claimed that the plane was cleared for landing from the southern side of the runway, flying over Koteshwor, but for some reason which is not quite clear, it landed from the northern side. An audio file circulating on YouTube -- purportedly a conversation between air traffic control and the cockpit -- reveals that there was a great amount of confusion between the two parties. And almost certainly miscommunication played a big part in the fatal crash. It should be remembered, though, that the very same Canadian-made Bombardier plane that crashed on Monday may have had a mishap back in 2015, when it skidded off the runway while landing at Saidpur airport in Nilphamari. Again, not surprisingly, when the Dhaka Tribune tried to contact the US-Bangla Airlines general manager to confirm this, the claim was vehemently denied, in spite of evidence to the contrary. These questions will no doubt all be answered fully soon, and we must keep demanding that they be answered. For now, we say a prayer for all those who perished in this terrible tragedy, as well as for those whose lives have been shattered by losing loved ones in the most unexpected way. May the victims of flight BS 211 rest in peace. Abak Hussain is Editor, Editorial and Op-Ed, Dhaka Tribune.
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