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Tragedy in the land of Everest


Rafiquz Zaman, his wife Sanzida Huque and their seven-year-old son Aniruddha Zaman seen in a family photo. Photo: Collected

Bored after months of work, they planned a holiday abroad. The destination they chose, upon suggestions from friends, was Nepal.

Both Sanzida Huque and her husband Rafiquz Zaman thought it would also be a pleasant gift to their seven-year-old son Aniruddha Zaman.

The couple got leave from their respective offices, and as planned, they boarded a US-Bangla plane at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka yesterday.

It was their last flight together.

The aircraft, carrying 67 passengers and four crew members, crash landed at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu a few hours later, killing 49 people on board.

“We came to know from the list of victims at a Kathmandu hospital that Sanzida, her husband and their son are no more,” said Baidul Alam Majumder, secretary of Sushashoner Jonno Nagorik (Shujan), a civil society platform where Sanzida worked as a coordinator.

Rafiq was involved in an organisation that works for the welfare of people with disability.

Badiul told this newspaper that Sanzida, who was from Jessore, had taken a three-day leave for the family trip. She was the eldest among three siblings.

“She had been a very hard working colleague. I wanted her to go on trips. Yet she inquired whether her leave would cause any problem for the office,” he  said.

“I don’t have any words to describe my feelings,” he added.

Vacation was always a sought-after thing for Emrana Kabir Hashi and Rokibul Hasan, who were also in the aircraft. They would go on vacation whenever possible.

This time, they had planned a long one.

On completion of three years at work, Hashi, a teacher of computer science and engineering at Rajshahi University of Engineering Technology, took a 15-day leave recently. She and her husband Rokibul Hasan, a software engineer at Cefalo Bangladesh Limited, decided to tour Kathmandu.

But the vacation turned out to be extremely tragic. Rokibul was killed in yesterday’s crash. Hashi was in critical condition.

“They were a happy couple. I can’t believe this has happened to them,” said Hasi’s colleague and friend Mumu Aktar, an assistant professor at the university.

Hashi lived alone at a rented house in Talaimari area of Rajshahi city while her husband lived in the capital.

Before boarding the aircraft yesterday, Pias Roy, another victim, uploaded a Facebook status along with a selfie taken inside the Dhaka airport.

“#Tata my country for 5 days. #Hailing to the land of the Everest,” he wrote in the caption.

Pias, a former student of Sheikh Sayera Khatun Medical College and Hospital in Gopalganj, was killed in the crash.

While describing himself in his Facebook profile, he wrote: “Travelling is my passion. I love to travel native and abroad”.

The trip was also much-sought after for Almun Nahar Annie, another passenger. This was the first time she took her three-year-old daughter, Tamarra Prionmoyee, outside the country.

Annie was travelling also with her husband FH Priok, her brother-in-law Mehedi Hasan and his wife Saiyada Kamrunnahar Shwarna.

Before boarding the ill-fated plane, Annie uploaded in Facebook two photographs taken near the immigration section. She and her daughter were seen along with the luggage in the photos. The caption reads: “Ready to fly to Kathmandu from Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport …Pls keep us in your prayer.”

Although Annie and three others of the family survived, her daughter was killed in the crash, Mehedi’s father Tofazzel Hossain told The Daily Star.

The condition of Priok, a photographer, was said to be critical, he added.

Two senior assistant secretaries — Nazia Afrin Chowdhury and Umme Salma –working at General Economics Division (GED) of the Planning Commission were also travelling in the plane to join a conference on environment issues.

Their fate, however, was unknown till last light. Their names were not on the survivors’ list.

“I had got an invitation to join the programme but I didn’t go. I nominated them to go there,” GED Senior Secretary Shamsul Alam told The Daily Star last night.

“They are among the most talented officers of the division.”