Freed Indians nurses return from Iraq: As it happened

The special Air India plane carrying 46 Indian nurses from Iraq has landed at Kochi airport.

Zee Media Bureau/Deepak Nagpal & Himanshu Kapoor

  • After the nurses, another flight from Iraq, carrying stranded Indian nationals lands in New Delhi.
  • While briefing the mediapersons, MEA Official Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said, "Momentum of return of Indian nationals from Iraq gathers pace. 600 more Indian nationals returning home in next 48 hours."
  • As the month-long ordeal in the strife-torn Iraq ended for the stranded Indian nurses, most of them vowed not to go back risking their lives.
  • The special Air India plane has landed at Hyderabad airport where many of the Indians who have come from Iraq will disembark. The plane will then leave for its final destination, Delhi and arrive there later in the evening.
  • Ancy Joseph, one of the nurses back from Iraq, says she wants to thank everyone who helped them in getting out from there.
  • Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy receives the 46 Indian nurses along with their families at the airport.
  • The Air India plane landed at Kochi airport at 11:57 am, say airport officials.
  • The special Air India plane carrying 46 Indian nurses from Iraq has landed at Kochi airport, say reports.
  • The Centre and Ministry of External Affairs did their job well, says MoS VK Singh on Indian nurses returning from Iraq.
  • Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has arrived at the Kochi Airport to receive the nurses coming from Iraq. He tells reporters, “I am very relieved (that the nurses are coming back). It was a joint effort by the state government and the Centre.”

    Also Read: Kerala CM Oomen Chandy to receive Indian nurses

  • Special Air India flight carrying 46 Indian nurses and 137 others takes off from Mumbai for Kochi, reports PTI.
  • The special Air India plane has made a `technical halt` in Mumbai for refuelling and catering supplies. It was expected to leave for Kochi at 9:55 am where it will land at around 11:55 am. The flight would then leave for Hyderabad at 12:55 pm and arrive in the city at 1425 hours. The flight`s last destination would be Delhi where it would arrive at 1740 hours, officials said.
  • Special Air India flight carrying 46 Indian nurses and 137 others from strife-torn Iraq lands in Mumbai at 8:43 am, reports PTI quoting an airport official.
  • Indian nurses on their way back home

    The ordeal for 46 Indian nurses who were abducted in Iraq by Sunni militants is set to come to an end today when they arrive back in the country on board a special Air India Boeing 777 aircraft.

    The Air India flight is currently on its way back home from Erbil in Iraq, carrying 46 Indian nurses and 137 other Indian nationals.

    The Indian nurses were freed by Sunni militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (SIS) yesterday.

    Also Read: UAE-based Indian businessman offers jobs to freed nurses

    They would first land in Mumbai at around 9:30 am for refuelling and catering supplies and then head to Kochi in Kerala where they will arrive at around noon. From Kochi, the flight will proceed to Hyderabad and then Delhi.

    The flight left Erbil for India at around 4:30 am IST.

    Apart from the nurses, the plane is carrying 137 other Indian nationals, including 70 from Kirkuk in the northern part of Iraq.

    The nurses were working at a hospital in Saddam Hussein`s hometown of Tikrit when ISIS militants began their offensive against government forces on June 9.

    The nurses were moved out on Thursday by ISIS militants against their will and detained in the militant-held city of Mosul, 250 kms 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 three Indian officials travelling on the chartered flight.

    The nurses were freed by Sunni insurgents after intense diplomatic efforts by India.

    "Ultimately it is hope that has triumphed," spokesman Syed Akbaruddin of the External Affairs Ministry said. "I will confirm to you that those Indian nurses who were yesterday moved against their will are now free."

    He underlined that "enormous" efforts led to a happy ending.

    "This ... didn`t happen just like that," he said. "It happened because there was an enormous amount of effort that was put in both within Iraq and outside."

    Akbaruddin did not reveal what back-channel efforts New Delhi put in but said that "conventional rules of diplomacy no longer exist" in insurgent-held areas in Iraq.

    "India has friends not only in Iraq but outside Iraq. Be rest assured that the support we are getting from within and outside is very substantial."

    He said a significant number of Indians were still in the conflict zone. "We are working on those... We will not leave any stone unturned in trying to get back our nationals from an extremely difficult position."

    (With agency inputs)