The casualty in the Gaya serial blasts on Sunday could have been higher had the incident taken place between October and May.
For Gaya, June to September is off-season. With hardly any passengers, commercial flights thus do not operate from the Gaya international airport around this time. And on Sunday, the occasional non-scheduled flight for anti-Naxal operations did not touch down.
During peak season, four-five flights ferry an average 1,500 passengers to and from the airport daily. The airport has connectivity with Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Bhutan, Singapore, Japan, Vietnam and Korea. Besides, domestic flights also operate to New Delhi and Kolkata.
This year, however, the tourist season ended in April and commercial flights stopped operating since then.
Gaya, nevertheless, had a few tourists when the bombs went off. Amanda Lam from Wisconsin, US, reached the city moments after the last blast.
“I was lucky that my departure from Patna was delayed because the cab I had booked arrived late. By the time I reached Bodhgaya, the police had sanitised the temple area,” she said.
Security at the airport too was beefed up following the serial blasts. Weekly offs of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel tasked with aerodrome security were also cancelled while access to the airport was restricted.
The airport at Patna, 140 km north-east of Gaya, was similarly put on high alert. CISF personnel were also asked to do passenger profiling.
The special IAF Avro plane carrying personnel from the National Investigation Agency, National Security Guards and experts from forensic science laboratory could not land because of inclement weather.