'Black Friday' at Kochi airport as people pay homage to victims of Kuwait fire tragedy

Kerala's Kochi airport has never witnessed such sombre scenes as were seen on Friday when the bodies of those who died in a fire in Kuwait arrived.

"On Friday, everyone at the airport was grieving and all had tears flowing. It's never happened before, so many dead bodies arriving at the same time. It is unbearable," said an airport official.

A top Airport Authority of India official said, "Since these bodies are treated as 'cargo', early morning we held a meeting of all stakeholders from the various departments. We decided to clear the bodies in about 15 to 20 minutes. Customs, emigration and health clearances will be done quickly for all 45 bodies, and of these 31 will be handed over here. A special area was designated where the 31 bodies were kept for all to pay their homage. Ambulances are there to take each one to respective homes," said the top AAI official.

The special IAF aircraft with the remaining bodies will depart for Delhi.

As the plane arrived, the airport was filled with wailing. Parents, children, spouses and other relatives were full of emotions.

kuwait fire accident

A father who worked for the same company in Kuwait was unable to control himself, as he said that after he retired, he sent his son to the same company.

"My son came last here in January after his mother-in-law passed away and now I have come to 'receive' him," he said while breaking down.

Stephin Abraham, 29, who hailed from Pampady in Kottayam, was an engineer and worked in Kuwait for the past six years.

"His new house is almost complete. He was here a few months back to finalise the furnishings of his home. We are unable to handle this tragedy of Stephin. This is life," said his relative who was wailing.

Incidentally, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who arrived at the airport here when the flight landed, waited before the enclosure to receive the 31 dead bodies.

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Also present were newly ordained Union Minister Suresh Gopi, Leader of Opposition V.D. Satheesan, state cabinet ministers, priests and hundreds of ordinary people.

(With inputs from IANS)