‘I heard a loud boom and felt as if I was dead,’ recounts Brussels airport blast survivor
MUMBAI: “I heard a loud ‘boom’ and felt as if I was dead,” recounted Jet airways crew member Nidhi Chaphekar, a survivor of the March 22 Brussels airport twin blasts that claimed lives of more than 30 people.
Recollecting the incident, Chaphekar told ANI on Friday, “When I reached at level two and went a little further, my colleague Amit and I heard a loud ‘Boom’, and it seemed as if somebody had busted a big cracker. There was smoke in the air and it seemed as if things were flying from beneath like feathers. But, actually, they were clothes of people, which we realised later.”
“As per first-aid training,” said Chaphekar, “we have been taught that if you see someone in pain, you should be the first one to provide help.”
Chaphekar further said, “When I asked him (Amit) lets go, he said ‘no as this is something unusual and different because people by then had started shouting loudly and we could hear children screaming.”
“As we stopped; in those 40-45 seconds, we heard another loud sound and I said ‘Bhaag’ (run). When I turned left and took some steps forward, I felt as if there was some fireball, which I never want to recall; and which we call explosion. It threw me away; I don’t remember where I had fallen, maybe somewhere in the end.
“I fainted and the thing that was going on in my subconscious mind was my kids — they will get to know; they will get the news; I need to call them. I was in dilemma, but said ‘wake up Nidhi’”
Chaphekar said she was unable to breath and could only hear an echo “tonnnnnnnn”.
“I found that my hands were working…People were lying next to me, and were unable to moving. I called them but there was no response.”
“I was asking for help from the God, said Chaphekar, “I closed my eyes and asked God to send somebody for help and when I saw nobody is coming, I thought I have to get out of this place, and tried to drag myself, but I never lost my courage.”
Giving details about injuries, she said, “In my left foot, a metal plate and a mirror piece had pierced due to which I was unable to walk. The only priority was to stop the blood loss.”
“We are taught in our first-aid class to stop the flow of blood first, because if there is more loss of blood, the body will go in shock. So, I asked a lady to help me lie down and then kept my legs on that bench at a height so that the blood flows towards my heart,” she said.
“There was a policeman, Alen, who kept me engaging in a conversation by asking questions about my work and family so that I do not sleep, because if someone sleeps in such a condition then everything slows down. I was feeling so cold that I was shivering, as my stretcher was lying on the floor and the temperature was 3-4 degrees and there was strong wind as well,” she said.
“People were calling out loud for their families… I cried when I was unable to move myself and was thinking about my kids that what they would do when they would get to know. And this, the only question I was asking again and again was hospital and doctor,” she recollected.
“As soon as I reached hospital… I asked doctors whether my face was burnt and they said yes. I was shattered, and asked myself that I didn’t want to live. I thought now on I won’t be able to work and how my kids and society would accept me? Doctors consoled me ‘don’t worry’. They asked about the contact number of my family. I gave them my husband’s number. I had no clue if somebody would come from Jet Airways, but only thing I knew that I work with Jet and there was my brother Shabeer, who would definitely come to see. I don’t remember what happened after that,” she concluded.