Brussels attacks: Back from Belgium, survivors recall trauma

242 Indians including 69 Mumbaikars, who were stranded in Brussels after the deadly attack, come back to their families and describe the horrific experience

As many as 242 Indians including 28 Jet crewmembers stranded in Brussels after the deadly terror strikes returned home yesterday. Of the 214 passengers 69 were from Mumbai who arrived at the airport through a Jet Airways flight 9W 1229 at 8.30 am after dropping 145 passengers in Delhi at 5.30 am.

Family welcomes Jaideep Digambar Karande at the airport
Family welcomes Jaideep Digambar Karande at the airport

These people and their families took a sigh of relief after a traumatic few days. Afshah Rajqotwala, who was coming home after visiting her aunt, was seated at the arrivals section when the explosion took place.

Bandra resident Afshah Rajqotwala returns home
Bandra resident Afshah Rajqotwala returns home

Rajqotwala did not hear the blasts as she was talking to her father but when she saw people run, she got out of the terminal. The 22-year-old, who spent the night in a hotel near the airport, was connected with the airline officials through Twitter.

Prasad Patil meets family at the airport. Pics/PTI
Prasad Patil meets family at the airport. Pics/PTI

Afshah, who was greeted by her parents at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport yesterday, said she felt relaxed after reaching her country.

"Our luggage is still in Brussels and that will be figured out by the airline. Meanwhile, I managed to take my handbag with me," said the Bandra resident.

Similarly, Jaideep Digambar Karande, who was in Kentucky for a one-year course in hotel management was on his way home to Pune. He had a connecting flight from Newark to Mumbai via Brussels.

"Precisely 10 minutes after I landed in Brussels, I heard the explosion and then it turned chaotic in there,” said Jaideep. “Soon after, the public announcement system blared one word constantly: ‘Evacuate’, chaos gripped the airport."

His family members, who had been feeling helpless the last few days experienced relief now. "He is the first person to go abroad in our family and we didn’t know what to do and how to track the situation as neither the airline nor Ministry of External Affairs was able to give any updates. Jaideep, however, with the help of a co-passenger, managed to convey us that he was safe. I feel like it is his rebirth," said Digambar, Jaideep’s father from Pune.

Another passenger, Prasad Patil, a resident of Panvel, who too had a connecting flight from Brussels to Mumbai, felt relieved on returning home.

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