Some passengers who were aboard the Fly Jamaica plane that crash landed at the CJIA, Timehri two Fridays ago arrived back in Toronto on Friday with gruelling tales and harsh criticism for the airline, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
“I’m so happy I’m here,” said Poorandai Sukdeo from Toronto Pearson International Airport. The Brampton resident had been in Guyana visiting her son and grandchildren.
“But I’m frustrated, I’m petrified, I’m confused,” she added, according to CBC.
During landing, several of the plane’s tires blew out and its right engine became dislodged from its wing. The aircraft also overshot the runway.
“I never heard so much ‘God’ in my life. Everybody just saying, ‘oh God.’” recalled passenger Philip Simon.
“I commend the pilot because … there was sand at the end of the runway, and he was able to direct the plane into the sand. And that caused the plane to stop”, he told CBC.
Sukdeo, like other passengers, said chaos ensued inside the plane.
“I was scared to death. Everybody was screaming.” she told CBC Toronto.
One of the emergency exits was blocked by the badly damaged engine. Several passengers said people were crying and shouting as the flight crew prepared to evacuate the aircraft, CBC said.
Three elderly women were injured as they attempted to slide down the emergency chute deployed outside of the fuselage, according to multiple passengers.
“They were unable to get up,” explained Simon, who injured his right shoulder trying to help another passenger make his way off the plane. He added that he believes Fly Jamaica should have been able to make the process more safe and efficient.
Eventually, all of the passengers and crew were safely taken out of the cabin. Some were transported to a hospital in Georgetown for treatment of whiplash and minor injuries.
One passenger, Rookhia Kalloo, 86, has since passed away in hospital. She had been taken there after complaining of feeling unwell three days after the crash landing.
Sukdeo said that in the days that followed, she and her husband struggled to get information from Fly Jamaica.
“They didn’t call even one day to see how we were doing,” she told CBC. “I was so disappointed. Thank God I have a son there with a home.”
Fly Jamaica said in an email to CBC News that it’s “not unusual” for some passengers to suffer minor injuries during an emergency aircraft evacuation.
Munasar Boobhan was home in Brampton trying to help his wife and daughter make their way home after the crash landing.
He struggled to maintain his composure while he spoke to CBC about their ordeal.
“Living here, with your family over there in that mess. It’s not an easy thing at all,” Boobhan said. “They were traumatized in that plane, and they are still traumatized.”
Several passengers who spoke to CBC News also alleged that some of their valuable belongings that they were forced to leave on the plane are now unaccounted for. Sukdeo said that gold jewellery, Canadian currency and two cell phones that she left behind are still missing.
Airport officials told passengers that all of their belongings will be returned to them, however no one was clear about how that would actually happen, according to Sukdeo.
Several firemen have been suspended and are being questioned by the police over the theft of valuables from the aircraft.
Fly Jamaica did not answer when asked by CBC News about the steps being taken to recover the items, saying instead the situation is being handled by the local authorities in Guyana.
As for those who lived through the crash landing, some said it will be tough to board
“I don’t know when I’m going to get back on a plane. At least not for now. That experience — I’ve never had an experience like that,” said Simon.
Another passenger, Invor Bedessee had recounted a similar experience to Stabroek News.
While most of the passengers were asleep prior to landing, Bedessee said that all of them woke up after the plane touched down and when it did not stop the commotion started.
“Once they hit the bump where the spikes are at the end of the runway and the tyres were blown out, the plane swerved to the right and I noticed the right wing was flapping and it broke off and the engine flipped over on it. Everyone was screaming, cursing, you name it. They were calling God and I don’t know who else they were calling but it was just crazy. I just wanted to get off the plane you know,” Bedessee explained.
After the plane crashed into the fence and came to an abrupt stop, Bedessee said that the pilot announced that they should evacuate and without a second thought, as soon as the door opened, he said he ran for his life.
“I popped out and took off. I left everything and I ran as far as I can and when I looked back the plane was right at the edge and the nose was off the right. I ran and I ran as far as I can along with like 13 other people,” the man recalled, still visibly traumatised.
Shortly after he made it to safety and the plane was evacuated of most of the passengers, he said smoke started emanating from it and this was quickly addressed by the Guyana Fire Service.
“It’s a miracle that we survived. Thank you God”, another passenger, Davanan Sukhram told Stabroek News.
When the plane finally touched the runway, Sukhram described its landing as a bumper ball, bouncing a lot. It was at this moment that he assumed the pilot made an attempt to stop the plane. Bags from the overhead compartments began to fall, while a door from a compartment hit two women then struck him in the back of his head and neck.
“I saw it coming, but I couldn’t do anything to stop it. I just threw it off after” he said.
When the plane finally stopped, Sukhram stated that everything jerked, then there was a lot of pushing as the emergency doors were opened.
Sukhram said, “I had a small bag with banana and my passport, that I wrapped around my hand and headed out, leaving my duty-free bags with cash and jewellery, under the seat in front of me.”
He recalled heading down the ramp, and watching as persons flipped over, in an attempt to get down from the plane. He worked alongside others to help passengers the best they could.
Sukhram added that he, along with a few other passengers began to walk to the terminal but were met by an ambulance along the way.
Sukhram had to be treated at two hospitals here. He has since returned to Toronto.