A chartered plane, with four people on board, crashed at a construction site in Ghatkopar, Mumbai, on Thursday, June 28. Several witnesses spoke about the spine-chilling mishap and revealed terrifying details of the crash. But this is not the first time that an airplane has crashed at the site.
About 69 years ago, a KLM aircraft had crashed near the same spot between Ghatkopar and Powai in which 45 people lost their lives. Among the 45 were 14 American journalists and citizens of countries such as the UK, Netherlands, China and Canada.
On July 12, 1949, the flight was, in fact, en route to Amsterdam from Batavia but was diverted to Mumbai after it was denied permission to fly to Karachi from New Delhi. It was supposed to land and refuel at Mumbai's (then Bombay) Santacruz airport and then fly to Cairo.
Those investigating the crash released a report according to which the mishap took place as the pilot "made an error of judgment" and "the accident was the result of the aircraft striking trees on a cloud-obscured hill, in ... poor visibility," reported the Times of India.
Before the crash, the pilot was reportedly informed of the area and asked to avoid the Powai area. But what made the pilot take that air route isn't known as the flight had lost its radio contact.
The plane came crashing down, and such was the impact that the debris was said to be scattered over a range of over 800 foot. While it took nine hours and about 400 policemen for the search and rescue operation, resulting in 36 bodies being found, severed body parts were found miles away.
The pilot of the aircraft had reportedly been burned to death in the cockpit, but his hands were found in a different location. "His left hand severed from his body, grasping a portion of the joystick, was found on a peak half a mile from where he perished," TOI had reported at the time.
While these accounts are pretty disturbing, what residents saw in Ghatkopar on June 28 wasn't any less.
People who were in the area and witnessed the crash said that the plane was already on fire when it landed with a loud thud and burst into flames."We were waiting for an autorickshaw when we saw a burning plane falling. It all happened so suddenly. Within seconds it crashed and was engulfed in smoke," two teens told TOI. "We heard three blasts one after the other."
Speaking of the mishap, another local resident told the Press Trust of India: "There was a very loud explosion. Smoke and flames engulfed the area in the 50-metre radius, leaving us clueless as to what had happened.
"We were having lunch when we heard the first explosion. We immediately rushed out ... saw a burning body near the crash spot. We tried to save the man but the flames had engulfed him completely so we found ourselves helpless."
Babasaheb Umap, a resident of Ghatkopar, revealed disturbing details of the crash and said that he saw the blade of the plane hit a pedestrian. But before anyone could act, the fuel from the aircraft is said to have spilled on him and he was engulfed in the fire.
"All I remember is seeing his brain and eyes pop out of his body and he was burning. But, before we could save him, there was fuel all around. We couldn't do anything, which is why we quickly called the police and the ambulance," Umap told Hindustan Times.