Vivek Ved’s family showered him with kisses as soon as he emerged from the Jammu airport on Saturday. A day earlier, they may have given him up for dead – among several others who lost their lives when flash floods hit the town of Leh.
“It was a miraculous escape for me,” said Ved, an army supplier and one of the 99 tourists who returned to Jammu from Leh on Air India’s flight IC 4450.
It was the first flight from the town since the catastrophe.
With bouquets in hands and tears in their eyes, scores of friends and family waited for hours at the Jammu airport.
“I haven’t seen any such happening before in Leh,” Ved said. “The only word to describe the night was devastating.”
Amina Bano, a student from Chandigarh, came out of the airport and waited for a cab along with her friends to take them to a bus stand. They would then take a bus to Chandigarh.
“We don’t know what led to the flood, but all we know is that God has given us a second life,” Bano said. “For us, Leh is not the same as it was before.”
Khalid Ahmed Butt, from Srinagar, was another survivor who took the flight to Jammu.
He said he was sleeping in a room on the first floor when the flash floods hit. “I tried to come out, but it took me three hours to cross the 20-foot area because the pressure of water kept pushing me back,” he said.