Twenty-three Indians rescued from Italian cruise liner Costa Concordia that capsized off Italy's coast last week arrived at the international airport in Mumbai on Thursday.
The evacuees landed in two batches — two persons reached the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in the afternoon and took a connecting flight to their hometown Karwar in Karnataka, while 21 Indians arrived in an Emirates flight from Rome via Dubai at 5.40pm.
Three more flights carrying survivors are due to arrive on Friday — one at 4.14am carrying 50 passengers, another at 8.20am with 20 survivors on board, while two more are expected to arrive on an evening flight.
Immigration formalities had been relaxed for the survivors as they did not have identity proofs and other documentation like passports, said passport officer VN Chaubey. The survivors started emerging from the arrival terminal at around 7pm.
The family members of the survivors, several from Vasai, had reached the airport well in advance. Satish Raghav, 48, a former navyman from Badlapur, whose son Rahul, 24, was a crew member on board the cruise liner, said, “While we know our son is safe, we will be satisfied only when we see him. These past few days have been terrible for us.”
Rahul had called up his father on Friday night while the cruise liner was sinking. “Since I was in the navy, I gave him some tips to ensure he survives the accident. I had told him not to jump off the ship until he was sure that the cruise was going to go down.”
He added, “When I spoke to him, the cruise had tilted by 30 degrees. I told him to stay put. I knew from experience that safety boats would have been on their way, and just hoped they reach before the cruise capsized completely.”
Fortunately for Rahul, his father’s experience came in handy and he did stayed on and the rescue boats arrived.
Rahul, along with the other survivors, were critical of Capt. Francesco Schettino who they claimed rescued himself and did not bother to worry about the safety of the passengers, many of whom were senior citizens.