NEW DELHI: Two hundred and forty two Indians including 28 Jet Airways crew members, who were stranded after the deadly terror strikes in Brussels on Tuesday, returned home today, much to the relief of anxious family members.
Meanwhile, the condition of 40-year-old crew member Nidhi Chaphekar who was injured along with her junior colleague Amit Motwani during the two explosions at the Brussels airport is said to be stable. Motwani has also been shifted to a normal ward from the ICU at the hospital in Brussels where he is being treated.
"The flight 9W 1229 carrying 214 passengers, including 69 bound for Mumbai, along with 28 Jet Airways crew members landed at IGI airport at 5.10 AM," a Jet Airways spokesperson said. The 'recovery' flight from Amsterdam carried onboard the passengers bound for Mumbai as their flight was cancelled at the last minute due to a technical problem in the aircraft.
The airline had earlier taken all its stranded passengers in Brussels to the Dutch capital by road. Narrating the ordeal passengers at the Brussels airport had to go through after the blasts at the departure area and in the metro station, a woman passenger said for some time people had no idea what was going around. "I was coming from Toronto and as soon as we arrived at the airport went to the arrival bay, within 15 minutes they were asking us to evacuate as soon as possible. We had no idea what had happened," she said.
She said there were hundreds of passengers running out with their baggage. "From there we found out that there were three blasts."
"We have spoken to Dr Steven at the hospital where Jet Airways crew Nidhi Chaphekar is under treatment. The doctor has confirmed that Nidhi is in a stable condition," the airline's spokesperson said. "They are recovering in hospitals and have been joined by their families. Jet Airways staff is at the hospitals to provide any support and assistance to the crew and their family members," the spokesperson added.
The Indian embassy in Belgium had yesterday in a tweet said that Ambassador Manjeev Puri had spoken to Motwani and assured him of all help. "The blast occurred in the departure area of the airport as soon as our flight landed. They took all of us out and we remained stranded there for quite some time," said another passenger.
Tuesday's suicide attacks in Brussels left 31 dead and 300 wounded besides leaving hundreds of flyers stranded due to the closure of the airport immediately after the explosions. Jet Airways yesterday operated two flights from Amsterdam for Toronto and Delhi after transporting all its stranded passengers in Brussels to the Dutch capital by road.
Jet Airways had initially planned to fly three recovery flights from Amsterdam including one to Mumbai after pulling out all its four grounded aircraft from the Brussels airport. The aircraft, which brought back the passengers to Delhi, was later flown to Mumbai with 69 passengers onboard, Jet Airways said. "I was just landing when the blast took place. So, we could not get inside the airport (terminal building)," said another passenger, adding "We were taken to some other place. We were taken care of very well."