Some survived on toffees, some are nursing broken bones, while still others survived a trek on the treacherous terrains for two days at a stretch, with hardly a moment to pause and catch their breath. However, even after living through the horrors of the Uttarakhand flash floods, this band of survivors could still afford a smile as they melted into the loving arms of their relieved kin on Thursday.
The relief at having made it alive from the ravages of Uttarakhand was writ large on the faces of the 108 passengers, as the special Air India flight touched down at the city airport at about 4.45pm on Thursday. But the homecoming was yet to sink in for the likes of Tapas Kabiraj, Debashish Pal, Shyamali Bag and Anik Chatterjee, as they relived the near brush with death.
The domestic lounge of the city airport was swept by a torrent of emotions as the survivors caught sight of their friends and kin, who had been spending anxious days over their fate since disaster struck.
“I had to survive on toffees for three days after a huge chunk of land caved in, taking all our food supplies and water bottles. We had to brave snowfall and keep moving to reach a safer ground. But we were hit by an avalanche on the way and never thought we’d make it alive,” Anik Chatterjee, a mountaineer from Uttarpara who was part of a 15-man trekking team to Uttarakhand, told HT.
Shyamali Bag (35) got separated from her husband and son after reaching Hardwar on June 20. The Howrah resident had no word on them for two days and spent seemingly endless hours waiting for a call from her husband. “I can’t express my relief when I got a call from my son, saying they were safe. I can’t thank God enough,” said Bag.