Photo: Shanker Chakravarty

Published in The Hindu. 27 May 2011

An impromptu decision to enjoy the cool night breeze on the terrace of their two-storey home cost the mother, sister and wife of young Deepak Sehrawat their lives when a small aircraft crashed into their house on a narrow by-lane of the densely-populated Parvatia Colony here on Wednesday night.

Deepak, who is in his 20s, was outside the house with his sister's young son, and his father was near the gate when the tragedy struck. They survived while their female relatives and all seven onboard the aircraft were killed. The aircraft was carrying to the capital a critically ill patient from Patna, along with medical professionals of the Apollo Hospital in Delhi.

Deepak's mother Vedvati was at neighbour Sunil Sharma's house, minutes before the tragedy struck. “As there was no electricity, Vedvati said she was returning to her house to spend some time on the terrace, as the weather had all of a sudden turned windy. She, along with her daughter and daughter-in-law, had just reached the terrace when the aircraft crashed into their house,” said Sunil Sharma.

A driver, Deepak had married Rani only in February this year. Eyewitnesses said around 10.30 p.m., they heard the roaring sound of an engine and wondered what the source was. Soon, some people saw a small aircraft hovering dangerously close to the buildings. “Our family was sleeping on the terrace when we heard the sound of an approaching aircraft. The plane crashed into our neighbours' house in front of our very eyes and exploded into a ball of fire. It sounded as if two gas cylinders had exploded together,” said another neighbour Jitender Upadhyaya.

The aircraft destroyed two houses.

Parts of the terrace floor where the aircraft crashed had broken to form gaping holes, extending to the base of the house. The mangled remains of the aircraft's glossy bright blue fuselage were perched on the broken terrace. Its interiors were ravaged by the fire. Twisted and jagged metal sheets and destroyed component parts were intermingled with the debris of the two broken houses.

Neighbours and rescue personnel pitched in to douse the fire and extract the bodies from the debris. “The police took some time in coming. However, soon after they arrived, they were helped by the locals in extracting the bodies. Ambulances and fire tenders also arrived soon after,” said Sunil Sharma.

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