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Whole families perish in Air India crash

By
MIKE BABAD, United Press International

Tom Soni had planned to join his wife and children on summer vacation in India. But Sunday he waited to hear whether their bodies had been recovered from the Atlantic Ocean crash site of an Air India jumbo jet.

'I have lost my whole family -- three children and a wife,' Soni said in an interview from his suburban Montreal home. 'That's all I had. They were going for a summer vacation in Delhi.'

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Soni's wife, Usha, 39, his 10-year-old twin daughters, Rina and Monica, and his son, Pankaj, 3, were among 329 people feared dead in the crash of Air India Flight 182, which went down Sunday in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Ireland.

'With school closed, I thought my children and wife would go for the whole summer and I would follow later,' said Soni, who emigrated with wife to Canada 11 years ago.

'It's a huge shock. Members of my community have come to my home to try to console me. They are holding a prayer service in the local Hindu temple for those killed,' he said.

Soni, an engineer, said he knows three other Montreal-area men of Indian descent who lost their entire families in the crash.

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'I'll probably go with one of them to London if I'm lucky enough to find her body and those of my children.'

Philomena Netto, a senior sales agent with Air India in Montreal, said she had 30 friends aboard the flight.

'It's very hard,' she said as tears welled in her eyes. 'It's like losing part of my family. I can't get over it. It's tragic.'

Among those aboard was an 11-year-old Indian girl who had been vacationing in Montreal.

'She wasn't anxious to go back,' Netto said. 'She wanted to stay a little longer.'

Taher Sadiq, 38, of Toronto, said he tried to get his mother off the flight before it left Toronto International Airport Saturday night.

Sadiq said he had a 'bad feeling' when he saw maintenace officials working under the plane before it took off 90 minutes late.

His mother, Sugra Sadiq, 65, a retired doctor, was returning to India for abdominal surgery.

'She was always scared of flying in a plane,' Sadiq said. 'She was so nice, so good.'

Sadiq said Air India officials refused to let him take his mother off the plane as the maintenance officials worked on it.

Tarakad Ramaswamy, 49, and his wife, Lakshmi, lost their 15-year-old daughter, Kanaki.

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'My pain is frozen, but there are moments when the reality sinks in,' Ramaswamy said. 'I only hope that if my daughter is dead, she did not experience any pain.'

In Britain, Krishna Gopal Wadhera of London was on his way to Heathrow Airport to welcome his son, daughter-in-law and nephew, when he heard the news about the ill-fated flight. There has been speculation that a bomb caused the plane to explode and he said such action was beyond his understanding.

'Whoever is responsible I pray to God that this man or woman whoever needs to be punished,' he said.

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