Saturday, 05 July 2014 - 10:03
Iraq crisis: Stranded Indian nurses freed
The special Air India flight carrying 46 Indian nurses set free by Sunni militants ISIS in strife-torn Iraq and 137 others would first land in Mumbai and reach here around noon today, a top airport official said.
The flight carrying 183 Indian nationals from Erbil was expected to reach Mumbai around 9.30 am and after disembarkment of some passengers would arrive here around 11.55 am, Cochin International Airport Director A K C Nair told PTI this morning.
The flight left Erbil for India at around 4.30 am IST, he said. From Kochi, the flight will proceed to Hyderabad and then Delhi, he said.
Besides the nurses, the plane is also carrying 137 other Indian nationals, including 70 from Kirkuk in the northern part of Iraq.
The ordeal of the nurses, who were working at a hospital in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, began when a swift ISIS (Islamic State for Iraq and Syria) offensive was launched on June 9.
The nurses were moved out on Thursday against their will and detained in the militant-held city of Mosul, 250 km from Tikrit. The Erbil International airport is about 80 km from Mosul.
A joint-secretary level IFS officer and an IAS woman officer from Kerala are among the Indian officials travelling on the chartered flight.
Air India spokesperson in Kochi said there are 183 passengers, including 23 crew members and three government officials, onboard the flight.
The flight will make a 'technical halt' in Mumbai for refuelling and catering supplies before landing here.
According to information provided by Air India from Erbil, 46 nurses will get down at Kochi and around 100 other passengers are bound for Hyderabad, the spokesperson said.
Airport sources had yesterday said the special flight Boeing 777 from Erbil was expected to reach the city around 6.40 am.