The special Air India flight carrying 46 nurses and 70 others rescued from strife-torn Iraq will reach Kochi airport at 11.45 am on Saturday. The flight had left Erbil at 4.30 am and reached Mumbai at 8.43 am.
The airport authorities in Kochi have made special immigration counters for the nurses, who were rescued from the custody of ISIS. Of the 46 nurses, 45 hail from various parts of Kerala, particularly Kottayam and Idukki districts. The other one nurse is a native of Tamil Nadu.
After offloading the nurses in Kochi, the special flight would leave for Hyderabad before moving towards Delhi.
The nurses, who return after weeks of ordeal at Tikrit Teaching Hospital since the city has been under the control of ISIS, would be received by Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan, apart from their family members. Although the state government has made arrangements for taking the nurses back to their homes, family members of the nurses have reached the airport to receive their women, who had gone to the crisis-ridden country to earn for the family and repay educational loans.
Of the 46 nurses, 31 are returning even without getting a single month salary, while others had salary arrears of two months. Some of them wanted to stay elsewhere in Iraq to earn something before returning home.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy thanked External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for ensuring safe return of the nurses. Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan demanded that the state government should earnestly look into rehabilitating the nurses.
The market is considered the largest cloth market in Asia and it houses a number of textile units and factories.