Sigh of relief as 300 Indians land from Cairo

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Mumbai, Jan 31 (PTI) Amid the continuing violentdisturbances in Egypt, an Air India plane carrying the firstbatch of around 300 Indians, stranded in the African country,landed here this afternoon.

Anxious relatives waiting at the Chhatrapati ShivajiInternational Airport heaved a sigh of relief as the specialBoeing 747-800 touched down at 2.20 pm.

"Thank god, we are safely back in our country," wasthe common refrain of the lucky few who escaped the tumultthat has hit Egypt over the demand for the ouster of PresidentHosni Mubarak.

Notwithstanding their week-long ordeal, a sense ofrelief shone through their tired faces as they thanked theIndian government for undertaking the effort to rescue itscitizens.

"It was like a nightmare...(there was) gunfireeverywhere, as smoke billowed out of the buildings andgovernment properties set on fire. Thankfully, I am out of allthat and safely back home," said Pankaj, who had gone to Cairoon a leisure trip along with his wife and four others.

"I don''t want to go back again. There were thousandsof people being badly beaten up by police," said a visiblyshaken Swathi (09).

"We had to make our way to the airport through themob, which fortunately did not harm us. With no food we waitedoutside the terminal building in 9 degrees Celsius," recountedDevina Chatterji, who had gone to Cairo with her husband, aTata Steel executive, for a company''s conference.

She said Cairo Airport is teeming with people whojust want to rush back to their countries but there are noflights.

"We are thankful to the Indian government that we aresafely back in our country," she said.

Most passengers who arrived in the first batch werefrom the TATA Steel, which had organized a three-dayconference in Cairo.

The Boeing aircraft was flown to Cairo yesterday as aspecial measure to airlift Indians caught in the unrest.

Air India has also decided to send its Mumbai-Jeddahflight further to Cairo later this evening to bring moreIndians stuck in the Egyptian capital back home.

According to estimates, there are about 600 Indians,including tourists, who are to be transported back to India.

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