Written by Staff Writer
02 Feb, 2020 | 10:00 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st):- The SriLankan Airlines flight UL 1423’s operation to rescue the Sri Lankan students stranded in Wuhan will go down in history as a moment that brought honour to the country. This report is filed in honour of the brave team headed by Pilot Captain Chaminda De Soyza that rescued the students, from the epicentre of the viral outbreak.
Chief Pilot Captain Chaminda De Soyza, was requested to lead the operation to rescue the students from Wuhan a week ago. Captain De Soyza, a father of two accepted the challenge. Knowing very well the dangers the mission would entail, he requested his team at SriLankan Airlines to volunteer.
Thereby Captian Anushka Jeewantha, Co-pilot Shehan Seneviratne, and Ravin Ranatunga and a team of 16 volunteered to travel to Wuhan. Besides the challenge of travelling to the epicentre of a deadly virus that has shocked the world, the team faced many other challenges along the way as well. This is the first time that a SriLankan Airlines flight travelled to the Wuhan airport. There was also no SriLankan affiliated institution at the airport to direct the flight.
The team also faced a challenge, where if the flight had to make an emergency landing, there was a question of if any other country would grant permission for such a landing. Thereby the Sri Lankan Embassy in China had hired a private company to coordinate the operations at the airport. The team headed by Chief Pilot Chaminda De Soyza had also accepted the risk of having to return back to Colombo, in the event of an emergency landing.
Wing Commander Milinda Perera from the Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear and Explosive Wing, of the Air Force had given the team a special training. The Sri Lankan Airlines flight landed in Wuhan at 10:00 pm on Saturday (February 1) after a flight of six hours. By the time the aircraft landed the Sri Lankan embassy had already transported the students to the airport and 8 staff members of SriLankan airlines had escorted the students to their seats.
The acting Ambassador of Sri Lanka to China, K. Yoganathan speaking on the matter said;
“We hoped that the landing of the flight in Wuhan would be successful as there were many challenges we had to face. Landing an aircraft at an airport is a complicated procedure. We must plot the route, we must get clearance. The Sri Lankan students were in various districts. So we choose three students as leaders to lead separate teams and we then got clearance for all of them.”
Many students and citizens from powerful countries in the world and in Asia were trapped in Wuhan. Ending a historic journey flight UL 1423 landed at the Mattala Airport last morning, making Sri Lanka the 4th country to rescue its citizens from Wuhan.
In the backdrop of such a brave and courageous act, a revelation was made by Venerable Prof. Medagoda Abhayatissa Thero in Rajagiriya today (February 2).
“I got to know that the principal of a certain school had informed that the children of the pilots of the plane who had taken our plane to Wuhan and rescued our Sri Lankan children were not to come to school for 14 days. All those people have been safe. They are not people who would want to get the virus voluntarily. They have been very safe. They have worn the necessary safety gear. We have to look into this principal. Nothing good will befall on people who are not grateful”
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