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SAA crew members arrive back in South Africa

by BuaNews Online
on 01 Dec 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

The seven South African Airways (SAA) crew members who were trapped in the Oberoi Hotel during the militant attacks on Mumbai earlier this week have arrived back in South Africa.

At least 183 people were killed, including 14 policemen and 13 foreigners, while 250 others injured in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in Mumbai since Wednesday evening.

It was only on Saturday that the famed Mumbai Taj Hotel had been cleared of all militants. Report indicated that last 2 or 3 militants were shot dead Saturday morning.

The SAA crew members were expected at OR Tambo International Airport at around 9am this morning. The have been through a harrowing ordeal and are tired, but are in good health, according to an SAA statement.

SAA General Manager of Operations Chris Smyth said: "I met the crew members on their return to South Africa and was happy to find them to be a close unit and in good spirits. They have obviously had an incredibly frightening experience, and they are extremely happy to be home."

SAA had helped to arrange for them to fly out of Mumbai and back to SA as soon as possible after their release from the Oberoi Hotel on Friday morning.

South African Consul-General in Mumbai, Busi Khuzwayo on Friday morning advised Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma that the SAA crew members had been released from the hotel and placed in their care.

They were then taken to the South African diplomatic officials ahead of plans to evacuate them back home.

Minister Dlamini Zuma expressed the gratitude of the South African Government to the Indian authorities for the professional manner in which the ordeal of the seven crew members was handled.

On Thursday evening the minister telephoned the crew in the Oberoi hotel to convey the thoughts and prayers of President Kgalema Motlanthe, the government and people of South Africa.

Upon their arrival on Sunday morning, SAA arranged for them to receive trauma counselling before being reunited with their families.

All 12 SAA crew members who were in Mumbai at the time of the terrorist attacks have safely returned to South Africa. The first five crew members arrived home on SAA flight SA285 on Friday morning.

SAA said while they are continuing to assess the situation in Mumbai, they had been informed that the airport in Mumbai remains safe and secure and therefore scheduled flights to the city are operating as normal. - BuaNews

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