'1st Day Was Very Difficult, Settled In Now': Air India Fliers Stranded In Russia

Two Air India fliers NDTV spoke to said they got no food or water for the first two-three hours and getting vegetarian food options has been an issue.

The brothers said that things have been looking up and Russian authorities have been helpful.

New Delhi:

Two passengers on the Delhi-San Francisco Air India flight that was diverted to Russia's remote town of Magadan told NDTV today that it was "extremely hard" for them on the first day, they were given no food or water for the first two-three hours and that there are very few options for vegetarian food. They also spoke about a woman in her nineties having only enough medicines to last one or two days. 

They added, however, that things have been looking up since the second day and the Russian authorities have been helpful.

Air India said the replacement flight which will take all passengers and crew onward to San Francisco has left for Magadan from Mumbai and will arrive there at 6.30 am local time (1 am IST). 

NDTV spoke to Girvaan Singh and his young brother, Jaivant. Asked how difficult it had been for them, Girvaan said, "So, for the first day, it was extremely hard for all of us. The weather is harsh and cold, and it was extremely windy. I was in half-sleeves and shorts. When we reached the hotel room, we had no food or water for two to three hours, and we got water around 3 am in the morning."

Adding that that they could settle in on the second day, Girvaan said, "The problem was that a lot of people are vegetarians and Magadan being a city next to the harbour, we don't have many options for vegetarian food here. They have been having bread and milk for breakfast, and some soup."

Asked about reports that other passengers are staying in dormitories and basketball courts, Girvaan said, "Luckily our batch, our bus, was taken to the women's hostel in Magadan. So we were the lucky ones... I saw some videos that 10 or 30 of them are sleeping in one classroom, which looks very uncomfortable."

Girvaan added that he was sitting next to a 96-year-old woman who was telling him that she was going to San Francisco after six-seven months. "She only has a limited amount of medicines for one or two days. So it is going to be difficult for her to manage."

Young Jaivant reiterated his brother's point about them not getting food or water for the first few hours. "It's not been too difficult. The second day everyone is settled in. There's just a problem of the food," he said.

Girvaan said there is also a language barrier. Asked whether people were helping them, he said, "Except for the food and the language barrier, Russian authorities have been helpful to us. They have allotted a translator who has been translating everything for us from the Russian authority. So all of them have been pretty helpful to us till now."

The Air India flight AI173, which was carrying 216 passengers and 16 crew members, had been diverted to Magadan on Tuesday.