Brussels attacks: Without baggage, over 220 traumatised Indians return home

Luggage of passengers will now be identified and arrangements to return them back will be made.

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala | New Delhi | Updated: March 25, 2016 5:39 pm
brussels, brussels indians, indians in brussels, brussels, jet airways, jet airways brussels, jet airways brussels flight, jet airways brussels delhi flight, jet airways brussels mumbai flight, india news Afshah Rajkotwala returned from Brussels via Jet flight to Mumbai on Friday. (Express Photo by Amit Chakravarty)

About 214 Indian passengers were rescued from Brussels and brought back to India via Amsterdam two days after the terror strike that killed 31 people. While 155 passengers were taken to Delhi, 70 others were brought to Mumbai.

Luggage of passengers will now be identified and arrangements to return them back will be made. The only luggage most of them have with them is the hand bag that they carried.

In Pictures: Stranded Indian passengers in Brussels return home after three days 

22-year-old Afshah Rajkotwala was talking to her father Amin over WiFi at Zaventem airport when he heard panic in her voice, “Something has gone wrong at the terminal,” she said amidst chaos. Though she did not hear the blasts, moments later she saw people running away from the spot where the bomb took off.

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Afshah ran out with only a handbag carrying her passport, money and some basic utilities and checked into a hotel in Brussels. A day later, her parents were able to establish contact with the Indian embassy who then took her to Amsterdam.

“But there was no contact from Indian officials at all the first day,” Amin said, adding that helpline numbers were not working either.

Even as Afshah returned back to Mumbai on Friday morning, exhausted with the events that conspired in the last three days, her luggage she claims, continues to remain at Brussels airport which has closed down until March 26.

“It still must be in the plane. I am told our luggage will come in two weeks or so,” she said. Her two suitcases had gifts for her family from Newark, United States where she was visiting her aunt.

Like her, Jaideep Karande (24) was also on his way to India via Belgium after completing a one-year training course in hotel management at Kentucky. This was his first visit abroad which turned into a horrid memory for the entire Karande family, who had come down from Pune early Friday to receive him. The family has been worried since Tuesday due to lack of proper communication with their son.

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“We see it only in news when terror attacks happen somewhere else, sympathise and forget it. Now I know how it feels to be in the middle of this,” said Digambar Karande, his father who kept peering over the crowd, waiting for his son to emerge.

Jaideep appeared through the departures, right into his family’s embrace. For his mother, who kept crying, allowing his son to stay away for a year was the hardest decision. Thank god, he is alright,” she said.

According to Jaideep, he had just arrived from Newark flight at Brussels and had a connecting flight when he saw a lot of commotion. Soon after, the public announcement system blared with one word constantly: “EVACUATE”. His luggage has also been left behind as he was rushed to a military camp set up by Belgium authorities.

Tuesday’s suicide attacks in Brussels left 31 dead and 300 wounded.

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.

brussels, brussels indians, indians in brussels, brussels, jet airways, jet airways brussels, jet airways brussels flight, jet airways brussels delhi flight, jet airways brussels mumbai flight, india news Jet airways flight carrying passengers who were stuck the Brussels airport arrived in Delhi (Source: @ANI_news/Twitter)

However, it had to cancel the Mumbai flight at the last moment as the aircraft developed some problem, forcing the airline to combine the two flights into one which landed at Delhi around 5:30 am this morning and then flew to Mumbai.