The get-away smooth,” spoke the captain in

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The flight took off in time from Santa Cruz airport at 6.30 a.m. sharp and everything seemed to be proceeding on normally. About seven minutes before landing the airport in Delhi, the captain of the aircraft spoke grimly to the passengers that the wheels of the aircraft had got jammed and that he would be trying his level best to land the aircraft safely. This sent shock waves amongst the passengers. Many were in tears; a few started calling the God loudly and others became dead serious.

Some passengers started rushing towards the doors of the aircraft. They were restricted to their seats by the cabin crew. I could see people praying for the divine help.

A few air-hostesses moved towards the emergency exits and began operating some instruments on the door panel. The captain asked us to sit on our seats and tie the seat belts, as he was trying to make a belly landing. The ‘no smoking’ signs were up. One of the air-hostesses explained the emergency exit procedures to the passengers.

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She told us to conceal our faces in our laps. “Once the aircraft stops, open the seat-belts and rush towards the emergency exits. The inflated slides would be ready to make your get-away smooth,” spoke the captain in an assuring voice.

Soon the aircraft started losing height. We could hear the engines screaming, as the pilot tried to control the descent and the speed of the aircraft. Suddenly, there was a loud thud and we experienced a few bumps. The aircraft stopped on its belly and slowly toppled on one side.

We took no time to open our seat-belts and grabbed whatever luggage we could lay our hands on. Everyone rushed towards the emergency exit. There was a huge balloon in the shape of a slide. We were told to jump on it. We did as we were told. The slide cushioned our fall. Soon we were on the airfield.

The airhostess kept on commanding us to run away from the aircraft. All the passengers, who had come out, followed the advice in the right earnest. As we ran, I looked at the aircraft that was badly damaged. One of its wings was broken into two. I could also see the fuel tank, out of which the fuel was slowly leaking out. At a distance I could see many fire engines rushing in to stop any outbreak of fire.

The whole experience of the crash landing of the aircraft was a horrifying nightmare. We had experienced death at very close quarters. The only consolation was that the mishap did not claim any casualty. Now I pray to the Almighty that such an experience should never befall anyone.

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