Tuesday 21 November 2017

Chefs cheated death by their last-minute switch to save €190

Zul Basir preparing food in the kitchen of Ramen.
Zul Basir preparing food in the kitchen of Ramen.
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

TWO chefs due to travel on Flight MH17 as they were going from Ireland to Malaysia switched their travel plans at the last minute.

Zul Basir and Ujang Zunaidi Abidin, who both work at Cork's Ramen restaurant, last night spoke of their relief and gratitude to God after they avoided travelling on the stricken aircraft.

In a text message to their friends in the Ramen restaurant on Anglesea Street, Zul said: "Me and Ujang are safe and just arrived, thank God."

The two friends were to fly with Malaysian Airlines to Kuala Lumpur via Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport – and would have been on the flight shot down over Donetsk by a surface to air missile.

But they realised just days ago they could save €190 each on the trip by switching to Emirates Airlines and flying home via Dubai instead.

They were shocked to discover on arrival in Kuala Lumpur just how lucky they had been.

Restaurant manager John Downey said he initially feared the worst when he heard the Boeing brought down in Ukraine was a Malaysian plane en route to Kuala Lumpur.

"I knew the lads were flying home to Malaysia on Thursday, and when I heard the news about the plane going down in Ukraine I felt a knot in my stomach," he said.

"I went into the restaurant and asked how the lads were going home. One of the other staff said they were sure they were flying home through Amsterdam. I got a terrible sinking feeling.

"It was only later we realised that they had flown home a different route."

He added: "We're all very friendly in Ramen which is why everyone was so concerned for Zul and Ujang. It was fantastic to hear today they are both okay."

Zul has been living in Cork for almost five years and is known as one of the best curry chefs in the country. Ujang has been in Ireland for around three years.

They were making the trip home to visit their families for Ramadan.

Restaurant owner Dave Dwyer said: "They are two great guys. There were a lot of people worried about them in Cork."

Irish Independent

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