A 28-year-old Egyptian teacher who was stopped from boarding a doomed Gulf Air flight to Bahrain because of his failure to meet a bureaucratic requirement attributed his escape Thursday to "the will of God."
In a telephone interview with AFP from Mansura in the Nile Delta, Hisham al-Husseini explained that an airport officer in charge of verifying passports refused to let him on the flight because he did not have a permit to work abroad.
He said that Wednesday was the first time that he had used a passport carrying a stamp saying he worked in Oman.
Husseini said he told the officer he was traveling to Manama on his way to the Omani capital, Muscat, where he worked at a private school, and that he had no idea he needed to apply for a permit.
"I thought it was only Egyptian government employees who had to have permits to work abroad, and as that's not my case I didn't think about it at all," said Musseini, who first moved to Oman last September to teach Arabic and who had been home for the summer holidays.
Egyptian law states that all citizens must get permits from the interior ministry before taking up work out of the country.
Husseini said that, after he was refused permission to board the flight, he used his mobile telephone to call his parents, who had dropped him off at the airport, and asked them to come back and take him home.
"It's the will of God, who wanted to write a new life for me," Husseini said, adding that an Omani friend woke him up to tell him about the fate of Gulf Air Flight 072.
"I felt my body turn cold, like a piece of ice," he said. "I just cannot believe that I have escaped from death.
"I have the sensation of a film running before my eyes," he added. "I saw the faces of the people who boarded the plane; it is so sad."
While Husseini survived, 64 of his countrymen died in the crash, which killed all 143 people on board the Airbus A320.
The passengers also included 34 Bahrainis, 12 Saudis, nine Palestinians, six from the United Arab Emirates, three Chinese, two Britons, and one passenger each from Australia, Canada, Kuwait, Sudan, Oman and the United States.
The crew comprised two Bahrainis, including the pilot, a Pole, an Egyptian, an Indian, a Filipino and a Moroccan, officials said.
Twenty-six children aged ten years or under were among those on board.
"I just got engaged three weeks ago, and I had a mysterious feeling I wasn't going to leave. Just before I went to the airport I told my fiancée, 'I think I've forgotten something'," Husseini said.
He added that he would not hesitate to use the same ticket soon on Gulf Air. Citing an Egyptian proverb, he said: "We have only one God, who alone decides on our lives." - CAIRO (AFP)
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