'We prayed, consoled each other'

'We prayed, consoled each other'

MH192 passengers recall moments of horror

'We prayed, consoled each other'

They sat glued to their seats in deep anxiety for four gruelling hours as the snag-hit Malaysia Airlines Flight MH192 made two attempts to land at the Kuala Lumpur airport, but in vain. With mounting tension, Bangalore-bound passengers prayed and consoled each other before the pilot deftly handled the third landing with extreme caution.

Once back at the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) here by a special flight on Monday evening, the passengers recalled those moments of horror. The mid-air scare had left them shaken, disturbed as they were by the recent memory of the MH370 flight that went missing.

MH192 had taken off from the Malaysian capital with 159 passengers and seven crew members on board at 10.09 pm local time (7.21pm IST), but a tyre that burst on take-off and a faulty landing gear triggered trouble. As one of the passengers, Tejaswi Shetty recalled, “Soon after take-off, we heard a sound. It was like a tyre burst. Then we felt the aircraft shaking, and heard the pilot announcing that the plane is returning to Kuala Lumpur due to a technical snag.”

The pilot kept reassuring them. But panic had set in. “Those were scary moments. Everyone was anxious. Some others were praying and a few were comforting each other,” said Shetty, who was with her three-year-old daughter.

To ensure that the aircraft did not accidentally catch fire on landing, the pilot had to deliberately use up the fuel. As another passenger, Rajkumar recalled, two attempts were made to land the plane safely but were aborted at the last minute.  All this only intensified the stress within. But the crew kept talking, assuring that everyone would be safe.

Right through the four-hour ordeal, the pilots were in constant touch with the Air Traffic Control. Once the aircraft touched down, the passengers heaved a big sigh of relief and wanted to thank the pilot.

The Malaysian Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein was at the airport to receive them, and even boarded the bus that took them to a hotel. The passengers were eventually accommodated in a special Boeing 737 flight that landed at 4.57 pm on Monday in Bangalore.

Tejaswi Shetty was on her way back from Sydney via Kuala Lumpur, while Rajkumar had taken a connecting flight on his return trip from a business event in China. Others profusely thanked the aircraft crew and pilot for rescuing them from a repeat of the MH370 fiasco.