MUMBAI: Brussels airport blast survivor Nidhi Chaphekar recalled her experience of how she survived the horrible attack and her determination and courage not to give up when things were falling apart.
“I heard a loud ‘boom’ and felt as if I was dead,” recounted Jet airways crew member 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, “When I reached at level two and went a little further, my colleague Amit and I heard a loud sound 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.”
She said in another 40-45 seconds, they heard another loud sound, after which they tried to run.
“When I turned left and took some steps forward, I saw a fireball. It threw me away. I don’t remember where I had fallen, maybe somewhere at the end,” she added.
Chaphekar recalled when she was almost fainting, in her subconscious mind she was thinking about her kids.
She said she was unable to breath and could only hear an echo.
“I was asking for help from God, 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,” she added.
Giving details about her 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.”
She said she asked a lady to help her lie down while she kept her legs on a bench at a height so that the blood flows towards her heart.
“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.
When she was taken to the hospital, she was shuttered to know that her face was burnt and she didn’t want to live.
“I thought from now on, I won’t be able to work and how my kids and society would accept me? Doctors consoled me. They asked me the contact number of my family. I gave them my husband’s number. I had no clue if somebody would come from the Jet Airways. But the only thing I knew that I work with Jet and there was my brother Shabeer, who will definitely come to see,” she concluded.
On March 22, as many as 30 people were killed in two suicide bombings as bombs ripped through check-in counters at Brussels Airport. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack. A subsequent explosion at a Brussels subway station killed 16 more people.
On March 7 this year, a bomb exploded in a piece of luggage at an airport in a central Somali town, wounding three people. Somalia’s Islamic extremist rebels, al-Shabab, claimed responsibility for the blast.