"Everyone shouted and cursed, you call it. They called God, and I do not know who else they would call, it was just crazy, "passenger Invor Bedesee, who was due to return to Canada, recalled yesterday after the crash of his flight Fly Jamaica at Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA). Timehri hours earlier.
The flight, OJ 256, which led to Toronto, Canada, had "hydraulic problems" in the airspace of Guyana. As a result, the captain decided to turn around and land at CJIA, but the plane crashed off the runway.
Bedesee told Stabroek News in an interview that the flight was initially delayed more than 45 minutes after the plane encountered a problem at one of its doors.
"They could not close it and after five minutes they went in for maintenance and took about 40 minutes to fix the problem. They took out this part, changed that part while everyone sat and waited. After about 45 minutes, the door was finally repaired and we were delayed, "recalls Bedessee.
After being late, he said that the flight leaves around 2:10 am and he expected a smooth home flight after a "smooth start" had not occurred. Instead, he had what he called "the first near-death experience" that had traumatized him.
"It [take off] but was smooth after 10 minutes, and I can still see Georgetown, and we rise at 2.25 [am] or so, I saw the plane circling and wondered what was going on, "Bedessee said.
He said at that point he knew something was wrong with the plane's flight. Not long after, the captain announced that they had "some hydraulic problems" and needed to reverse to land at CJIA.
"So we've come back now and go down again and the inverted engines kick in and we hit the ground, but the tire brake does not lock up and does not stop. When we hit the ground, she rolled on to the end of the runway, "he recalled.
While most of the passengers had fallen asleep before landing, Bedessee said that everyone had woken up after the plane touched down and when it did not stop, the uproar started.
"As soon as they had hit the pile where the spikes were at the end of the runway and the tires were blown out, the plane flew to the right and I noticed that the right wing fluttered and the engine stopped and the engine turned on it. Everyone screamed and cursed, you call it. They called God and I do not know who else they would call, but it was just crazy. I just wanted to get off the plane, you know, "said Bedessee.
After the plane crashed against the fence and came to an abrupt halt, Bedessee said that the pilot would announce the evacuation, and without further thought, as soon as the door opened, he said he was running for his life.
"I went out and left. I left everything and ran as far as I could and looking back, the plane was right on the edge and the nose was on the right. I ran and ran as far as possible with 13 other people, "recalls the man, who was still visibly traumatized.
Shortly after he got to safety and the plane was evacuated by most of the passengers, he said the smoke would run out and this was quickly addressed by the Guyana Fire Department.
Bedessee said he was still traumatized, even though he had been tortured a few hours before his conversation with Stabroek News.
"I'm still shaking, I'm still nervous. I still get goosebumps and it's my first near-death experience. My dad died last year and I guess he watches over us and probably says he's not ready to see me. I'm just breathing deeply. I did not sleep all night and I do not think I can do it, "he said.
Bedessee, vice president of Bedessee Imports Limited in Canada, said he also left his carry-on luggage that was either lost or stolen. The bag contained over $ 1,000, an iPhone 6, chargers, a battery, earphones and other valuable items.
Other passengers and crew members also complained about missing items from hand luggage and after the evacuation of the aircraft. The Guyana Police have since confirmed that they are investigating alleged theft and assisting several Guyanese firefighters in the investigation.
After the plane had been evacuated, the passengers were taken to the terminal, and at this point, remembers Bedesee, everyone was confused and did not understand what was going on. About an hour later, they were taken to the check-in area where Fly Jamaica staff recorded their contact information.
Regarding the communication of the staff with the passengers, Bedessee said he was disappointed because "they did not know how to deal with the situation." He said that he and other passengers had received little relevant information about what had happened and what was her next step?
Only hours after the incident, they were told that they could leave, and the airline would contact them if they had information.
"The communication was not the best because nobody knew anything. They kept saying they would wait for the management and did not tell us to take a taxi or go to a hotel. We were only stranded there for more than an hour, "he said.
Ministry of Public Infrastructure Minister Annette Ferguson said all passengers were put in a holding facility at the CJIA. The operator took all his information and made sure that they were transported to their respective homes or hotels.
She also pointed out that some of the passengers would be accommodated on flights operated by Caribbean Airlines (CAL) as soon as the agreements were concluded. The flights are scheduled to start today.
Among the passengers who were injured was Daveanand Sukhram, who reported that he suffered minor injuries to the neck, hands, shoulders and feet after being hit by a door that had fallen out of a roof compartment and he was attempting to leave the plane, squeezed. He also noticed that they had to walk more than a mile to reach the terminal.
The injured included 58-year-old Janice Adams and 68-year-old Bebi Ali, who had suffered minor foot and neck injuries.
According to a report on the website of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Rabina Roopnarine received a phone call from her mother Bebe Ali, who was on the plane. A resident of Toronto, Ali, flew to Georgetown two weeks ago for her brother's funeral. She was due to land at Pearson International Airport in Toronto yesterday.
CBC said Ali had reported to the flight attendant at the hospital shortly after the crash landing. Roopnarine said the plane was filled with smoke and the passengers tried to crowd away.
Ali, the report said, injured her neck and back as she slipped down the slide, her daughter said.
"She just wants to come home," Roopnarine said.
The injured passengers all had similar experiences and said they were worried about their lives and that it was an experience they never want to have again. Some said that they are seeking compensation.
They thanked God and the pilot for not allowing the plane to leave the runway.