Eight Guyanese have sued Caribbean Airlines (CAL) over the dramatic crash-landing of one its planes at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri on July 31, 2011.
The eight are seeking damages in excess of $1M for personal injuries, loss and damage arising
from what they say was the “negligent operation of Caribbean Airlines Flight #523”. They are also seeking interest and costs.
The 10-day writ came two years after the plane overshot its landing and broke in two. The official final report on the accident has still not been made available. The eight who have sued are Ernest Scott, Abdool Latif, Maylene Persaud, Chelsea Persaud, Crystal Persaud, Shanti Persaud, Rajendra Persaud and Prampatie Persaud.
The writs were issued by Sase Gunraj and Jaya Singh.
Around 1.30 am on July 31, the aircraft, which was on its way to Guyana from New York, with one stop in Trinidad and Tobago, broke in two at the end of the main runway after landing. Reports provided by persons on board were that the aircraft touched the surface of the runway and progressed with speed to-wards the runway end, after which in broke in two, and subsequently landed in a ditch.
Several persons sustained injuries but there was no fatality. Guyanese Noel Smith sustained severe injuries to his right leg which was subsequently amputated.
In a statement on the incident on January 11. 2012, the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority said:
“At this stage it appears that the primary contributing factor in this accident was that the aircraft made a long landing and touched down with insufficient runway remaining to come to a safe stop. Detailed analyses will examine several other aspects of this flight to identify any other possible contributing factors in order to learn from this accident and to help identify any measures which may assist in the prevention of future occurrences.
“It is expected, as is the case in most other major accidents, that the analysis and development of conclusions may take at least another year and will follow the established process of rigorous examination of all aspects relating to the occurrence.”
Yadram Shivwoudh, one of 157 passengers on the flight recalled how he and his family along with other passengers walked around in the darkness for a while before they were rescued by relatives. The man told reporters while standing at the bedside of his mother at the Georgetown Public Hospital how he had to “fetch” his family members one by one off the wing of the plane in an effort to get them to safety.
He spoke to reporters during a visit to hospitalized passengers by Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamla Persad-Bissessar and several of her Cabinet ministers.
Shivwoudh, who travelled from New York to Guyana with his wife, daughter, mother, Juliet Shivwoudh and a niece for a two-week holiday in Berbice, recalled how he had opened the emergency door when the plane came to a stop since he was sitting closest to the exit.
“I wanted to get out, because we started to smell the fuel. We did not know if there was going to be an explosion or anything,” the man said.
“I had to get on the wing and I had to catch my family one by one,” he continued.
According to the passenger he was walking around “in the woods in the dark, there was nobody to help us, to guide us. Not we alone, more passengers, we were in the woods in the dark.”
Other passengers related similar experiences including one who was asked for money by a taxi driver to be transported from the crash site to the terminal.