Two Adventist Teachers spared from tragic Ethiopian plane crash
Everything seemed to proceed according to plan when two teachers from the Asia-Pacific International University (APIU) in Saraburi, Thailand: Pradeep Tudu, Vice President for Finance and Development and Youssry Guirguis, a lecturer in the Faculty of Religious Studies received a notification from the Ethiopian Airlines updating them about their upcoming flight to Kenya. Little did they know that they will be a part of a story they surely wouldn’t want to miss sharing to the world.
Tudu and Guirguis are colleagues from APIU who wanted to take a trip to Kenya. On March 9, 2019, a day before their trip, Tudu received a message updating them about their scheduled flight saying:
“Dear Customer, Your Ethiopian Flight ET 0629, from Bangkok, Thailand to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on March 10, 2019, at 01:15 AM has been changed. The flight will now depart at 03:45 AM on March 10, 2019. We apologize for any inconvenience this might cause you. Have a pleasant journey.”
Their planned route was to stop at Addis Ababa and board an Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 to Nairobi. The sudden flight reschedules caused them to miss their flight.
After seeing the message from the airline, the two got frustrated and started making calls to inquire what can be done for them not to miss their early flight.
“We tried to call the airline office, but we were not able to make any contact. We did not know if there was another flight and we did not want to be stranded in Addis Ababa,” Tudu said.
When they arrived at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, they looked for the office of the Ethiopian Airlines but were unsuccessful. They called the main office in Bangkok, and the answering machine said, “Sorry our office is closed as it is after working hours.”
Guirguis recounted their efforts just to get an early flight to Addis Ababa.
“The answering machine gave us a few numbers that work 24 hours a day. Each time we tried to call a number, it lacked a digit. We were unable to get through. We wondered why the numbers were not working. All of these attempts were to make sure that we would not miss the Ethiopian flight ET 302 from Addis Ababa to Nairobi,” said Guirguis.
The two boarded their flight from Bangkok and took off for Addis Abababa as scheduled. At 9 am the next day, while nearing their destination, they noticed that their plane had been flying over Ethiopia in circles for the past sixty minutes. “We thought that the pilot was touring us over the country,” said Guirguis.
Then they heard the pilot announce: “Sorry for the delay in landing; we were asked to look for a missing flight. In six minutes, we will land.”
Tudu and Guirguis arrived safely in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at 10:30 AM, March 10, 2019. They were still a little disappointed about the flight delay but were given a connecting flight at 1 PM.
As Tudu and Guirguis boarded their plane at 1 PM, their attention was caught by a commotion of passengers inside their plane. Out of curiosity, they inquired what the commotion was all about, and were told that the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 which they were suposed to take crashed six minutes after take-off earlier that day.
“The fact that the plane crashed shortly after leaving Ethiopia’s capital, killing all 157 people on board, left my colleague and me in a state of shock,” stated Guirguis.
“For a moment we were in the midst of grief and in the experience of a great miracle at the same time. Instead of wasting time to grasp reality, we read the Bible and prayed many times. We also tried to comfort the crew members who were weeping for the loss of eight of their fellow crew members,” Guirguis added.
Upon hearing the news, 25 passengers got disheartened and decided to disembark and discontinue their flight to Kenya. As a result, the plane was delayed for two more hours. It took five hours from the time they landed in Ethiopia to the time they arrived in Kenya.
During those excruciating hours, their families, friends, and co-workers from Thailand and the Adventist University of Africa (AUA) in Kenya who heard about the ET 302 crash were distraught and anxious to hear of any positive news about them.
After completing their tasks in Kenya Tudu and Guirguis headed back to Asia-Pacific International University.
That day when their lives were spared from a life time sentence, Tudu and Guirguis made a commitment to share to the world that God saved their lives.
In an interview, Benjamin Guirguis, grade five student and son of Guirguis said, “I could not imagine that my father would have been on the plane that crashed. If he were on that plane, I would not take flights for ages.”
“There are plenty of questions that arerunning at the back of our minds. Why did this happen? Why did God spare our lives? What is so special about us,” said Guirguis. “But at the end of the day, we can conclude that we were saved by God’s miracle. It was a miracle of God’s saving grace,” Guirguis added.
Reported by Nola Tudu and Joy Kuttappan with SSD Communication Department
Seventh-day Adventist beliefs are meant to permeate your whole life. Growing out of scriptures that paint a compelling portrait of God, you are invited to explore, experience and know the One who desires to make us whole.