|06 April, 2020

Cargo flights requested to repatriate bodies from Bahrain

Of the nine Indians who have died in Bahrain in the past 16 days, the bodies of five remain in morgues at public hospitals.

Indian community leaders in Bahrain are urging officials to permit cargo flights to repatriate dead bodies.

India has banned commercial flights until further notice as part of a lockdown to combat the spread of the Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19).

Of the nine Indians who have died in Bahrain in the past 16 days, the bodies of five remain in morgues at public hospitals.

Malavika Manojan, 16, who died from a terminal illness on March 21 was cremated in Askar cemetery in the presence of her parents, while 28-year-old Ahmed Ayoub, who died in a motorbike crash in Ghufool last Monday, was buried in a local cemetery the following day.

Two others were repatriated on cargo flights last Wednesday to Kochi, Kerala.

Bodies of Rajan Raman, 47, an accountant who died of a heart attack on March 25, and 52-year-old Reghunathan Kuniyil, who committed suicide in his Muharraq accommodation on March 26, were sent on Gulf Air cargo flights.

“Cargo flights should be opened to repatriate dead bodies,” said World NRI Council GCC Humanitarian Aid director Sudheer Thirunilath.

“With India banning commercial flights, we need to look at other options – the last thing we need is to see families waiting for dead bodies.”

Currently, due to Covid-19 restrictions, cargo flights are limited to transporting essential items.

Cargo flights usually transport mortal remains, with some airlines having dedicated flights or space for the purpose.

The deceased whose bodies are awaiting repatriation are Bhoomanna Noothpalli, 41, who died from a heart attack on March 20; Mahesh Vanaparthi, who committed suicide in Sitra on March 23; Tandel Rajendra Kumar, a 52-year-old cancer patient, who died at Salmaniya Medical Complex on March 26; Nagadurga Saidu, a 34-year-old female cleaning worker, who died in a road accident in Khamis on March 29; and 41-year-old Sathish Kumar, a private sector employee who committed suicide on Saturday by hanging himself from the ceiling at his accommodation in Hamad Town.

“This is a good proposal and perhaps the best thing all governments involved can collectively do for the expat community in this situation,” said Bahrain Keraleeya Samajam president P V Radhakrishna Pillai.

“We are in talks with the Non-Resident Keralites Association (Norka).

Uncertain

“This is ideally a decision to be taken immediately as we are living in a time of uncertainty and the best that we can do is to alleviate the trauma of the family back home.”

Norka collaborated with Emirates, the UAE and Indian airport authorities to repatriate at least six bodies in the past few days from Dubai.

However, rates for Emirates cargo flights are almost three times more compared with other flights, the GDN has learnt.

Norka chief executive Harikrishnan Namboothiri told the GDN from Kerala that discussions with airlines including Emirates and Gulf Air were moving in a “positive track”.

“We hope the governments of the countries approach the situation from a more humane point,” said Kerala Pravasi (expat) Commission member Subair Kannur.

“We hope cargo flights are permitted to carry dead bodies.”

raji@gdn.com.bh

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