Tuesday, July 3, 2012

AGNI 9N AIG - D228 Crash

So I clearly fail at keeping up with the blogposts, but I've wanted to blog about the Agni plane crash on May 14th, mainly because I was in Jomsom and saw crash with my own eyes. The entire event was scaring to say the least. My cousin and I were waiting for Tashi (one of the characters in the film) to arrive in Jomsom that morning. He had told us he was attempting to find a earlier flight, because planes don't fly into Jomsom after around 11:00 am because of the strong winds. We had just eaten breakfast and left the hotel when I heard a loud noise and I looked up towards the mountains in front and saw a dust cloud. I had initially thought it was an avalanche but everyone started screaming "it was a plane!"

My cousin and I ran to the base of the area where the plane crashed. Five to ten minutes after the crash everyone there saw a man crawl out and wave his hand from the crash site. At which point people realized that there was at least one survivor. Jomsom locals were the first to respond and reach the site, and a crowd started to grow around the location. The crash occurred right above a military base in Jomsom and I would have thought the military would have respond a lot quicker then they did. It took (I think 30-40 minutes) after the first locals reached the crash site. My cousin and I were just distraught at the thought that Tashi might have been on the flight. Suddenly we got a call and were elated to hear Tashi's voice on the phone, and that he had decided not to fly on the Agni flight that had just crashed.

In my opinion the rescue was totally haphazard, and I was just shocked at the way that the bodies of the wounded/ dead people were treated. A Jomsom local came running down the side of hill from the crash site with a little Indian girl who was semi-unconscious and bleeding from her head, and he had absolutely no idea where to go. My cousin and I directed him towards the military health post (which has no doctors). However I think most of the wounded were medevaced out in a matter of an hour or so, which was impressive. But what wasn't impressive was the nature in which they brought out the dead, the military base only had TWO or THREE stretchers. So they started using rope to pretty much drag the bodies down the hill, they tied rope to each limb and around five people lifted/dragged the dead down the side of the mountain. Then they decided to use bed sheets to move the dead, and of course the sheets couldn't handle the weight and would tear and the mutilated bodies would flop onto the ground, and the soldiers would scramble to cover up the mess and find another bed sheet. It was absolutely horrifying to see the bodies of the dead. My cousin and I were there to see if we could help, and it was heart wrenching to realize that we could do absolutely nothing to help these people, most of them were already dead. There are no doctors in Jomsom and the closest hospital is a helicopter flight to Pokhara. I guess it's one of the risks you have to take when traveling in mountainous regions.

It was also amazing to see how the military pulled out the remains of the plane from the mountain face. They used around 30-40 soldiers and tied rope around the tail of the plane and just kept pulling until the entire back end of the plane was removed from the intended area of the mountain.

The rest of the day was kind of strange. After four hours most of the people had left the site and had gone back home or to work. There were five or six people that were there the whole day (I guess investigating the crash..) It was strange walking around because you would see drips of blood on the ground of the wounded and dead that were moved. It started raining towards the end of the day and washed away everything. In total fifteen people died in the crash and amazingly six passengers survived the crash. My prayers go out to the people who lost their family and friends on that flight. I have yet to understand what exactly went wrong. I've heard many different version, but it was very clear day and the weather was fine. The most common explanation has been that there was a mechanical failure and the pilot was attempting to fly back to Pokhara when he couldn't manage to turn the plane around and crashed into the mountain.

I was there a couple weeks back and was terrified to get into a plane, but what's worse is that they've left the remains of the plane on the mountain face. It's a haunting reminder of that horrible day.

Here are some links to articles and video:


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