Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 August 2019

Dubai bus crash: families in India gather for funerals of victims

Doctors are called in to help some of the women cope with the news of their relative's death

Deepa Kumar pictured with his wife, Athira, and daughter, Amulya, during a visit to his home state of Kerala, India, last year. Courtesy Kumar family
Deepa Kumar pictured with his wife, Athira, and daughter, Amulya, during a visit to his home state of Kerala, India, last year. Courtesy Kumar family

Families in India bid farewell to their loved ones on Sunday, after the bodies of those who died in a bus accident last week were flown in from Dubai for the last rites.

Hundreds gathered at homes, cremation and burial grounds across India to pay their respects to people who had made the UAE their home.

Of the 31 passengers on board the bus from Muscat, 17 died of which 12 were Indians.

Many died on the spot on Thursday when the bus crashed into an overhead height restriction sign, tearing through the top left side of the vehicle.

In the southern Indian state of Kerala, where at least eight of the victims lived, families called in doctors to help women in the family cope with the news that their husbands and sons had died.

In Trivandrum city, relatives wept as they filed in to pay their respects to Deepa Kumar, 40, who worked as an accountant in Dubai for 14 years.

His wife, Athira, and their four-year-old daughter, Amulya, survived the crash on Thursday because they sat by the window on the right side of the Oman-registered bus. The family were returning home from their Eid Al Fitr holiday in Muscat.

Immediately after the accident, Kumar showed no external signs of injury but lost consciousness while speaking to his wife inside the bus and never recovered.

The family, concerned for her recovery, only told Athira of her husband’s death after she returned to India. They had originally told her he was in intensive care at Rashid Hospital, where she and her daughter were also treated, and that he would be taken to India for further care.

“She started shivering a lot when we told her my uncle was no more and the doctor gave her a tranquiliser,” Kumar’s nephew, Abhiraj RK told The National.

“Physically she seems okay, but mentally it will take some time for her to recover. Amulya kissed her father. She is too young to understand what has happened,” he said.

Kumar had last been home in August, during the harvest festival of Onam.

“He was planning to come down again in September for Onam and had just called us to ask what gifts we wanted him to buy for the family,” Mr Abhiraj said.

“No one can accept or understand this. Everyone is depressed. He loved us very much. His biggest dream was to come back to Kerala and spend time with his brothers. That is not to be.”

“He was the backbone of our family,” said Amal Dev, Athira’s cousin.

“Everyone relied on him. His loss is felt very deeply. He was a simple man and he did things for people quietly.”

In another coastal city, Thalassery, about 200 people gathered for the burial of Ummer Chonokadavath and his son Nabil Ummer.

The pair were returning from Oman, where they had spent the Eid break with Ummer’s daughter.

The family broke the news to his wife after her remaining three children were at home by her side.

“We were worried that my aunt’s pressure would go too low when she heard that both her husband and son had died so we only informed her in the doctor’s presence,” said Nahimshad Chonokadavath, Ummer’s nephew.

“Though my uncle’s body came so early this morning from Dubai, there were at least 200 people at his funeral. We buried my uncle very early at 3am because after a major accident we were told the body should not be kept very long. It is a terrible time for our family.”

Updated: June 9, 2019 10:53 PM

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