Indian airline denies 'misreported' claim that passengers were asked to 'pray to god' as smoke filled cabin

Indian airline denies 'misreported' claim that passengers were asked to 'pray to god' as smoke filled cabin
The flight was going from Goa to Hyderabad and landed safely after the smoke-filled cabin debacle (YouTube/Economic Times and Mirror Now screenshot)

HYDERABAD, INDIA: An Indian airline has debunked the claims that its crew passengers were asked to "pray to god" after smoke filled the cabin and cockpit while the flight was mid-air. SpiceJet, a reputed Indian airline is mainly known for providing decent service to its passengers at a very reasonable rate. However, the airline seemed to be startled by the claims after its flight from Goa to Hyderabad made a “full scale emergency landing”, diverting as many as 11 planes at the airport on Wednesday, October 12. 

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India’s federal aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has ordered a probe into flight SG 373, which had 86 passengers onboard. “The plane landed safely and passengers disembarked through the emergency exit. One passenger sustained minor scratches on the feet while disembarking from the aircraft,” said a DGCA official. 

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According to the Independent, the airline told in a statement that “smoke was observed in the cabin during descent” but added that the incident was “misreported and sensationalized." A passenger who was flying for the very first time certainly did not have a memorable experience. Srikanth M told The Times of India that they were asked to pray to god for their families and the frightened passengers were screaming. “They [the crew members] told us to pray to God... pray for our families... It was mortifying. Many of my co-passengers panicked and started shrieking,” said Srikanth M, who works at an IT company in Hyderabad.

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A SpiceJet spokesperson however contradicted this report and claimed that the crew had followed the complete standard of procedure (SoP) and stayed calm throughout the process. “At no point in time did the crew make any announcement asking passengers to ‘pray to God’ and the recording of the CVR (CVR) proves the same,” the statement said. “Unfounded remarks have been attributed to our crew, which is extremely unfortunate. The emphasis of the crew in such a situation is to guide passengers to safety and that is what they did." 

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Passengers were seen sitting in the smoke-filled cabin of the aircraft and clapping in joy once the plane made a safe landing, in pictures and videos shared on multiple social media platforms. Srikanth, who shared the videos on Twitter, said “This should not be ignored... Must be taken necessary action. It took 20 minutes from there and we all the passengers suffered and blacked out with fear. Luckily we landed alive and safely... But what if something happens and who would be responsible, this happened clearly due to the neglence of the crew and respective department."

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He further alleged that the airline staff tried to snatch his phone and also threatened him to delete the videos and pictures of the incident. The airline spokesperson said they “advised the passengers against using their mobiles” as it is their duty during emergency evacuations. The passengers were evacuated safely by the Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting team. As many as nine flights were diverted due to the incident. This is reportedly the 8th instance when a SpiceJet flight suffered technical glitches this year. 

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