Kochi: A helicopter carrying prominent NRI businessman M A Yusuff Ali, his wife and four others crash-landed at a marshy land near here on Sunday morning, police said.
All passengers including Yusuff Ali, who is Chairman of international retail group Lulu Group, his wife and two other passengers along with two pilots on board the chopper owned by the company have been admitted to a private hospital here.
“All of them are safe. They are currently under observation,” a top official of the Lakeshore hospital where they are treated told PTI.
The incident occurred at Panangad area at around 9 AM on Sunday, according to a statement issued by Lulu Group International.
“Yusuff Ali, currently in Kerala, was on a short trip from his home in Kochi to visit a relative at nearby hospital.
Due to the sudden deterioration of weather conditions and heavy rains, the experienced pilots decided to make precautionary landing at a safe place to prevent any risk to the life of the passengers or public at large,” the statement said.
“All passengers and crew underwent necessary medical checkup and are safe,” it said.
An eyewitness said a major accident was averted as the pilots managed to make safe landing in a marshy land near the NH Bypass at Panangad.
Besides the busy highway in the neighbourhood, the small plot of land with compound walls is surrounded by electric lines and buildings.
The incident occurred as the helicopter was slated to land on the ground of the Fisheries College, Panangad.
The distance between the ground and marshy land is about 200 metres, they said.
A local person said he rushed to the spot seeing the crash landing of the chopper at the marshy land.
He, along with the pilot of the chopper, took Yusuff Alito safety.
“It was raining heavily. He was provided a chair to sit. He complained of backpain. The police reached the spot after 10 minutes and took all the passengers to the hospital,” the man told a news channel.
According to sources, the Lulu Group bought the seven seater helicopter from a famous European manufacturer two years ago.
Yusuff Ali’s Abu Dhabi-based Lulu Group that owns Lulu Hypermarkets and shopping malls is one of the top retailers in the Middle East and North African region (MENA).
It has more than 200 Hypermarkets and Supermarkets in Gulf countries, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, India and employs over 58,000 people from various countries and has logistics centres in the US, the UK, Spain, South Africa, the Philippines, Thailand etc.
Last week, Yusuff Ali was honoured with Abu Dhabi’s top civilian award.
The prestigious Abu Dhabi Award was given to the NRI businessman for his Outstanding Contribution to Abu Dhabi’s Business, Industry and support to various philanthropic initiatives.
Yusuf Ali who was recently ranked in the Forbes Billionaire list 2021 as the richest Indian in the Middle East also is billed as the most influential Indian in the Middle East thanks to his close proximity with the gulf rulers.
He has also received numerous awards, including the Pravasi Bharatiya Samman in 2005, the Padma Shri in 2008, the Order of the King of Bahrain in 2014, and British Queen’s Award in 2017.
In addition, he is also the first expatriate to get a permanent residency visa from UAE and Saudi Arabia.