June 25, 2012: Not a single newspaper report on the Double Six tragedy carried any account of how the Fire Department personnel went about their work.
Only the tragedy was announced.
Hence, Daily Express decided to locate at least one former personnel to shed some information and was fortunate to find one still residing near the crash site at Sembulan.
What is produced here and in the following page are the only eyewitness accounts by a Fire Department personnel and residents there - 36 years later.
Bomba (Fire & Rescue) Officer Hj Janair Adam, now 69, was on duty at the KK Airport Fire Brigade that fateful day. They were on standby for all flights that day as part of their routine duty.
According to him, at about 2pm, the Fire Brigade received a call from the Airport Flight Control Tower that a plane has crashed off Sembulan.
No other details were available.
"I brought my people there. We rushed there in two fire engines.
There were altogether seven people including myself.
News of the plane crash had spread like wild fire.
"On turning into the Sembulan Road from Jalan Mat Salleh, we found that the road was jammed from the highway roundabout right up to Kg Sembulan.
"Ramai orang (Many people). We had to sound our siren as loudly as we could to get the vehicles to give way to us. In fact, we were delayed for about 20 minutes," the grandfather of six, then aged 33, recalled when met at his residence at Kg Sembulan Tengah.
Even then, it took them about half an hour to reach the site. Soon police arrived to control the situation.
When Janair met the then Commissioner of Police, Datuk Hj Yusof Khan, he asked, "Tuan, siapa ini yang di dalam kapal terbang?" He replied, "Ketua Menteri sama dengan rombongan."
Two ambulances and a police truck rushed to the site to send the victims to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH).
Janair, who retired as Pegawai Balai Bomba KK Airport (KK Airport Fire-Station Officer) in 1998, said :
"Saya terkejut terus. Beberapa tahun saya sudah kerja tapi belum pernah nampak kejadian macam ini.
Saya nampak orang mati dalam kapalterbang.
Tidak pernah berlaku di KK (I was shocked outright. In all my years, I have not seen an incident of this magnitude. I actually saw dead people in an aeroplane. Never happened before in KK).
"But we have been trained not to be carried away by emotions.
In the firemen's line of duty, there is no room for personal feelings.
We could not afford to let our heart rule our head. If we became emotional or fainted, who would carry out the work of extrication?
"As a Bomba Officer, I had to show leadership by example; otherwise, if the rank and file became frightened, they might probably run away.
So we have to sabar (be patient) under the circumstances, and do what we are supposed to do."
What surprised Janair most was the condition of the plane, making him wonder where the passengers were.
Given that the pilot Gandhi was reportedly experienced, how could the nosedive have occurred?
After all, it was already approaching the runway.
"You see, not only did the plane nosedive but the tail part had literally folded in this manner due to the impact," he explained, using a sheet of newspaper to demonstrate it.
"It would have been a different story if the helicopter had crash-landed and not nose-dived.
Perhaps, there might have been a few survivors even," he opined.
Janair remembered discussing with the police who queried, "Mana ini orang-orang (Where are the passengers)?"
He answered: "Mungkin di dalam itu. Orang semua kena pihit.
Satu jalan saja. Kita terus buka macam ini, boleh nampak orang di dalam (Possibly still inside the plane.
They are all tightly squeezed.
Only one way.
If we open up the plane like this, we can see the people inside)."
Directed by Janair, the firemen, armed with rescue tools such as a cutter, saw and safety knife, set about their work.
"We waded knee-deep through mud to reach the wreckage."
Janair said they (Fire Brigade) tied a rope to the tail of the plane and tried to pull it back to its original position in order to retrieve the bodies from the fuselage.
"Kasi buka, jadi nampak sudah itu orang. Tiada hidup, semua mati, banyak patah, badan pecah (When we finally opened up the plane, we saw people inside but no one alive. All dead, a lot of broken limbs, bodies were smashed)."
Asked if it was difficult for them to recover the dismembered bodies, he said:
"Definitely, because they were trapped inside. To extricate the bodies, we had to use cutters.
In some cases because the limbs got stuck.
We used knives to cut the safety belts to release the strapped bodies," replied Janair.
"Tangan tiada, kita cari cari. Kebanyakan tiada tangan, kaki patah, kaki kena sangkut (No hand, so we had to look for it. Most of the bodies were without an arm, broken legs or legs got stuck).
We cleared all the arms which were traumatically amputated as a result of the tremendous impact, and sent them to the hospital together with the bodies."
He said an hour passed before the firemen completed the job.
Asked whether he knew the personalities on board the Nomad, he said he knew some of them by name like Datuk Peter Mojuntin and Datuk Chong Thain Vun.
"I knew Tun Fuad Stephens because I had met him before.
I once saw Datuk Darius Binion while he was on the April 1976 campaign trail. I knew Datuk Salleh Sulong too."
However, Janair said the Fire Brigade did not go by identification in carrying out their task.
"Whichever body we found from the wreckage, we removed it to be sent to the hospital for post-mortem.
That was our main concern.
We used stretchers to carry the bodies to the waiting vehicles about 200 feet away.
"Our role was not to identify the bodies which was left to their next-of-kin at the mortuary.
They probably identified their loved ones through recognising personal items like rings and watches," he said, adding that the limbs were later stitched back.
A report was subsequently completed by the Fire Brigade on its role in extricating the bodies from the wreckage. "Just in case those responsible for investigating the crash needed it."
Asked on claims by some village residents that they had heard an explosion in the plane, Janair said if there had been an explosion, the aircraft would have caught fire.
Asked about other rumours, he said there was also talk making the rounds that the plane was shot down, regardless of how far-fetched it could be.
"I understand that those making all sorts of remarks about the crash were taken to the police station for questioning or for their statements to be recorded. In fact, a lot of Special Branch officers were around at that time.
I was told that more than 20 members of the public were brought to the police-station.
"As you know, that time was musim politik panas (politics was hot).
The tragedy happened barely two months after the April 1976 elections which saw a change of government," he pointed out.
Janair said that for a month, the sight of the crash and dead bodies haunted him.
"I was continuously reminded of the incident because people continued to talk about it.
And a lot of people raised queries over the incident."
By: Mary Chin