The Chhatrapati Shivaji International airport’s domestic arrival lounge broke out in cheers of joy at 9 pm on Saturday night, as Jet Airways flight 9W 356 touched down on the tarmac.
Inside the flight, along with a 100 others, were 73-year-old Suhasini Mane and Vinod Gupte, 63, lucky to be returning home at all. Relatives of those stranded in Uttarakhand thronged the airport from the evening, as news spread that the flight from Delhi was bringing back rescued tourists. For many, it was a futile exercise but for relatives of the 10 tourists who did land up, it was a huge relief.
Speaking to Sunday Mid Day, lawyer Smitha Mane, whose 73-year-old mother Suhasini was one of the first to come out of the airport, said, “The last time I spoke to her before her disappearance was exactly a week ago. We had no idea what happened to her thereafter. It was only two days ago that I found her name on the police website which said she was staying in a hotel with 17 other rescued tourists.” The septuagenarian, of, course was in no state to speak and broke down on seeing her daughter.
A little distance away, Vinod Gupte, 63, recounted his ordeal as he witnessed several people being swept away after a landslide right next to the lodge where he was staying. “We were advised to shift to a nearby lodge. We had to leave all our luggage and belongings behind and the very next day there was a landslide that completely submerged a nearby temple,” he said. Gupte said he found out that 15 devotees and priests at the temple were killed in the landslide.