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DateLine Wednesday, 30 January 2008

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A lifetime’s dreams shattered in mid air

A Sri Lankan maid who left here on Saturday morning by Saudi Arabian Airlines died on board, two hours before reaching Colombo.

The incident occurred when Letchumi Devi Rasiah,30, was returning home after serving in the Kingdom for 1 year and 10 months.

The cabin crew on board SV 784 for Colombo was giving the medical aid when Letchumi had developed chest pain two hours after the aircraft took off from the Saudi capital.

An airline official from Colombo told Daily News that the entire crew did its best to save her from her fatal chest pain . “ We gave her oxygen and the required First Aid till we reach our destination but unfortunately she succumbed to her pains,” he said.

Asked whether the airline would pay any compensation for the next-of-kin of the deceased since the death had taken place on board the aircraft, the official said that this does not arise since the death was due to natural causes.

Assistant general manager for Foreign Relations at the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment, SLBFE L. Ruhunuge said he had informed parents of the maid who are in Badulla. “ They were coming to Negombo to identify the deceased,” he added.

The hospital authorities held a post mortem at the Negombo morgue Tuesday afternoon. “It will ascertain the cause of death,” a police official at airport said.

The return flight from Colombo was delayed for more than 10 hours because of the incident . A Saudia passenger who arrived here from Colombo by the same flight said the airline officials had to fumigate the entire aircraft to disinfect the cabin.

The airline officials had to follow certain procedures before they take off from Colombo in such circumstances, he added.

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