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It was a quiet Friday evening on 19 December 1997 when Mother returned from a concert at 10.30 p.m. As she was about to retire for the night, she received a telephone call, and from her response, we knew something was amiss.

Hanging up the telephone, she dashed for the door, shouting, "There's a plane crash ! One of my colleagues may be on it ! I'm going back to the office. Don't wait up for me !"

It was so ominous a message ! it turned out that the colleague was indeed on that ill-fated flight returning from Jakarta to Singapore. She was initially due back in Singapore on Wednesday, 17 December, but a series of meetings with clients had delayed her return to Friday instead.

The airplane, SilkAir MI 185, had taken off from the Jakarta airport at 3.30 p.m. However, shortly after take-off, the plane radioed the Jakarta air-control tower that it would be heading back to land at the airport due to some areas of concern regarding the plane. The air-control tower directed the plane to the nearest airport at Palembang. Unfortunately, it never made it to the airport. It crashed, taking all one hundred and four people on board to their watery graves.

Salvage efforts were soon undertaken by the Singapore Navy and the Indonesian authorities. They managed to dredge up a considerable amount of the plane's wreckage and some body parts, but no complete body was ever recovered. The two black boxes that were designed to record dialogues between the pilot and the co-pilot, and the exchange between the pilots and the air-control tower were recovered from the sea, but no message could be retrieved from them.

Singapore Airlines and SilkAir flew families of the deceased to and from Singapore to Palembang in the initial days of the rescue and salvage work at the site of the crash. however, it was a heartrending scene portrayed time and again on local television of family members weeping over the inevitable outcome that they would never be able to see their loved ones again.

A last rite, performed by the various religious leaders of the various faiths, was organized by the Singapore government at the Indoor Stadium. Thousands turned up to pay their respects to the one hundred and four victims of the plane crash. it was a time of national grieving for the tragic loss of so many lives. At the same time, all the friends of my mother's colleague banded together to lend emotional support to the latter's family. There was only so much anyone could do for the families and loved ones of the dead. The last rite provided some consolation for those left behind as the dead could now rest in peace.

   
Answer the following questions using complete sentences
  1. Explain what is meant by 'something was amiss' (paragraph 1), according tot he passage.
  2. Why did the colleague of the writer's mother return on the ill-fated flight on Friday instead of Wednesday ?
  3. Why did the pilot radio the Jakarta air-control tower ?
  4. From paragraph 4, quote the two-word phrase that tells us the plane had crashed into the sea.
  5. What was found from the sea off Palembang ?
  6. Which word in paragraph 5 has the same meaning as 'extracted' ?
  7. How did Singapore Airlines and SilkAir help the families of the deceased ?
  8. What was the 'inevitable outcome' (paragraph 6) ?
  9. Which two-word phrase in the last paragraph tells us that all Singaporeans felt terribly sad for the loss of all the victims of the plane crash ?
  10. Why does a religious leader conduct a last rite ?
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Answers
 

1.

It means something was no right, as if something bad might have happened.
 

2.

Her return was delayed by a series of meetings with clients.
 

3.

The pilot had detected problems on the plane and had to return tot he airport.
 

4.

The phrase 'watery graves' tells us that the plane had crashed into the sea.
 

5.

A considerable amount of the plane's wreckage, some body parts and two black boxes were found.
  6. The word is 'retrieved'.
  7. They flew the families to and from Singapore and Palembang during the search and rescue operation.
  8. There was no survivor in the crash.
  9. The phrase is 'national grieving'.
  10. A religious leader conducts a last rite for the dead to rest in peace.
 
 
 
 

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Comprehension 1

 

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