Already coping with reports of Iraqi rebels stepping up their operations, the 46 nurses from Kerala holed up in Tikrit were further unnerved when bombs went off in the hospital compound where they are staying, one of them said Saturday.
Speaking to IANS over phone from Tikrit, a Kerala nurse who did not wish to be identified said that whatever peace of mind they had disappeared when the bombs, believed to be dropped from a helicopter, exploded in their hospital compound Friday evening.
"The sound of the explosion sent shivers down our spines. The explosion occurred around 150 metres from our building. Our impression is that these bombs were dropped from a helicopter. We are all praying (for deliverance)," said the nurse.
She said they are in constant touch with the Indian Ambassador in Iraq, also a Kerala native, and he has assured them something will be done.
"We are told that an Indian naval ship believed to take us back is on its way to Kuwait (which borders Iraq)," said the nurse.
It's been two weeks since they stopped going to work. Of the 46 nurses, 35 have packed and are ready to return any moment while 11 of them wish to remain. Baghdad airport is around two hours' drive from our place. So far we have had no problem getting the basic amenities at our residence," added the nurse.
Meanwhile, a Kerala government official said they are confident that their efforts will bear fruit.
"Shashi Tharoor (who represents the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency) is using his influence in the United Nations to see that these nurses are safely brought back," said the official who did not wish to be identified. Tharoor is a former top official of the UN.