Kasargod, Kerala: Sunday morning saw as many as 30 funerals in north Kerala's Kasargod and Kannur districts. With 66 victims of Saturday's plane crash in Mangalore being Malayalis, Kerala was clearly in mourning.
Pareppu, a small village in Kasargod, had seven funerals. As a mark of respect to the many departed, Nileshawaram town that borders Mangalore is observing a shutdown Monday.
Of the 66 Malayalis killed in the accident, bodies of 54 have been identified while efforts are on to identify the rest.
One of the tragic tales is of 46-year-old Abdul Samad, who hailed from Kannur. He was coming to see his wife and children after three years. He had been in Dubai for 18 years.
"He was supposed to come for his vacation last week. For some reason he postponed his trip by a week. His wife and kids were at the arrival lounge when the aircraft burst into flames," Samad's relative told IANS from Kannur.
Shibhu, an IT professional, had seen off his wife Rosili and two kids after a vacation in Dubai. But people back home are now waiting for him to come back after Rosilli and their two children, aged six and nine, died in Saturday's mishap.
"We are all waiting for Shibhu to arrive from Dubai. Rosili's parents have now been told of the tragedy," said one of Rosili's relatives.
While many are yet to come to terms with the loss, there are some thanking god that they were not on the ill-fated flight the had planned to take. Among them is Congress legislator from Kannur A P Abdulla Kutty.
Kutty, who was in Kuwait, decided at the last moment to cancel his booking on the aircraft as he realised that he would not have enough time to catch the flight after landing in Dubai from Kuwait.
Instead of taking the Air India Express flight, Kutty flew in an Emirates flight from Dubai to Karippur airport at Kozhikode.
"I landed at the Kozhikode airport and I was told of the tragedy. My daughter was in tears on learning about the tragedy. She calmed down only after my wife told her about my arrival in Kozhikode," said Kutty.
Political leaders cutting across party lines are making a beeline to Mangalore and visiting the homes of the bereaved families.
The IX 812 Dubai-Mangalore flight overshot the runway while landing at the Bajpe airport, about 20 km from Mangalore, early Saturday and caught fire after plunging about 300 metres off a cliff.
All passengers were Indians, many returning home from Dubai where they worked. Among the 158 dead were 19 children and four infants.