Sri Lanka experienced its first major air disaster exactly 37 years ago, late on the night of December 4, 1974. The plane, a giant DC-8 jetliner on a Mecca-bound charter flight, crashed at Maskeliya killing all 191 passengers and crew. Among the dead were 182 Indonesian Muslims on a Haj pilgrimage. The aircraft belonged to the Dutch air charter company Martinair.
The plane was scheduled to arrive about 22.10 hours or 10.10 pm at the BIA. But before that, perhaps, due to gross miscalculation of the distance to the BIA under bad weather, the DC-8 crashed into 'Seven Virgins "killing all on board and reducing the aircraft to heaps of rubble.
An air hostess’s boyfriend has come to Sri Lanka in a helicopter, the area residents who witnessed say the body was taken. The helicopter was disintegrated and destroyed. A large amount of the passengers’ money has been taken by the area residents. Notes of Hong Kong ten Dollars are still been kept safely by the area residents. Many people from different parts of the Island had come to see the Helicopter accident.
The pilot’s son has come to the site where the accident took place and has recorded a television documentary sometimes ago, and also had placed a monument with the names of the 9 crew members near the front tire of the disintegrated helicopter which is placed opposite the Norton bridge police station as a remembrance.
Though the helicopters badge had been fixed near the place where the dead passengers were buried, it has been stolen by some people. The group which conducted an investigation produced a report stating that the helicopter met with the accident due to technical failure.
(Photo Credits - Ranjith Rajapakse)