A policeman saluting them as a tribute to their bravery has gone viral on social media

On that fateful night when the Air India Express repatriation flight with 190 passengers onboard crashed at the Kozhikode airport in Kerala on August 7, dozens of locals without fearing for their lives rushed to help. The crash left 18 people, including two pilots dead.

The group of locals, who are now in quarantine, rescued dozens of people who had come from Dubai on that Air India Express aircraft, says a report in BBC. A policeman saluting them as a tribute to their bravery has gone viral on social media. The report says that this group has received countless calls, mostly from relatives of people on that flight, thanking them for saving their loved ones.

BBC highlights Fazal Puthiyakath who was one of the first responders at the site. He lives just 100 metres from the airport. “There were around six of us who managed to get there within a few minutes of the crash. The gates were shut and people were crying for help,” Puthiyakath was quoted saying. “The security people initially refused to open the gates as firefighters were spraying foam on the plane.”

Puthiyakath described the crash site as heart wrenching. “Many passengers were unconscious. Some were stuck under their seats. We needed to unfasten their seat belts and get them out of the plan,” he shared.

Regional fire officer K. Abdul Rasheed told BBC that the local volunteers took a massive risk. He said firefighters at the airport sprayed foam immediately after the crash to prevent fire. “But a small spark or lapse could have led to a big tragedy,” Rasheed said.

Read the full report in BBC