A preliminary report released earlier this month regarding Emirates flight EK521 from Thiruvananthapuram to Dubai talks about “passenger behaviour and carry-on baggage” and highlights poor conduct by the passengers.
EK521 – a Boeing 777-300 – was carrying 282 passengers and 18 crew members when the incident took place at approximately 12.45am on August 3. 226 or over 80% of the passengers were Indians.
The report, which was released on September 6 by the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority, states:
“The cabin crew members stated that when the Aircraft impacted and slid along the runway, passengers started to unfasten their seatbelts and stand up. An announcement was made for the passengers to remain seated. When the Aircraft came to rest, some passengers were screaming, grabbing their belongings, and asking the cabin crew members to open the doors.”
“The cabin crew members followed the Operator’s safety instructions that prohibit passengers taking their carry-on baggage during an evacuation, and they instructed the passengers to leave their bags behind. However, several passengers evacuated the Aircraft carrying their baggage. Footage of the evacuation showed a number of passengers outside the Aircraft with their baggage”
The report also found that the pilot attempted to abort the landing after an initial touchdown, which resulted in the aircraft hitting the runway as its landing gear was retracting. The wind changed direction in the final moments before the aircraft was set to land.
The full report in PDF can be found here.
In a video that went viral (watch it here), passengers inside the Emirates flight can be seen blocking the aisles and grabbing their belongings from the overhead compartments even as oxygen masks drop down and smoke starts to fill the cabin slowly.
“Please give way. Leave your belongings,” a passenger can be heard pleading.
Moments later a cabin crew member can be heard yelling to people to leave their bags and rush to the exit.
“Leave everything, leave your bags, leave everything and move to the slide”, the crew member says.
A second later he can be seen running along the aisle, urging people to move out as soon as possible.
Just as the videographer rushes towards the exit — the phone camera still on and filming — a female cabin crew member positioned at the exit can be heard screaming “jump, jump, jump”.
“Leave your bags behind. Jump everyone. Jump everyone,” she continues as passengers — including the videographer — jump on the emergency slide.
A second later the camera focuses on the plane’s engine, which is on fire.
“Go, go, go, guys quickly,” yells another voice from behind, overshadowing the crying and worried screams of children fearful of sliding down.
The 282 passengers on board are lucky to have escaped alive, thanks to the heroic efforts from the well-trained flight crew, who ensured the passengers were evacuated in seconds and well away from harm’s way.
But the response from passengers in the face of such a grave emergency drew lots of criticism from social media users.
“There is a fire on the plane and people are bothered about their hand baggage!! You DELAY the evacuation by doing so. These people are very lucky. God was on their side,” wrote Jennifer on Facebook.
“I was so shocked to see passengers are worried about their baggage more than their lives. I am glad to hear the Emirates cabin crew forcing them to move and go out and leave the bags. Thank you to Emirates Airline and all the government authorities in handling this crisis in a very efficient way, and my prayers to the fire fighter Eisa who sacrificed his life to save the passengers,” said Mahra Al Shamsi.
“I’m so sad to see people more worried about their bags than their lives not only putting their lives in danger but the crew who have to wait for them to evacuate before evacuating themselves,” said Lauren Jennifer Duncan.
“Extremely unfortunate to see those poor passengers more concerned about their baggage than the lives of people on board and the rescuer martyred saving such a greedy crowd,” Muhammad Shams Ur Rahman wrote.