An Air India flight bound for the United States from India encountered an engine problem, leading to an emergency diversion to a Russian port city, as confirmed by officials on Wednesday. The Boeing 777 landed safely in Magadan, Russia, on Tuesday evening following the midair malfunction. The flight, which departed from New Delhi and was en route to San Francisco, carried 216 passengers and 16 crew members, including potentially U.S. citizens.
Air India issued a statement assuring that the plane had landed safely in the northeastern port city of Magadan and was cooperating with local port authorities. Given the limited resources available in Magadan, makeshift accommodations were arranged for the passengers. Air India clarified that due to the absence of their staff in the remote town of Magadan or Russia, the necessary ground support was being facilitated through continuous communication with the Consulate General of India in Vladivostok, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, local ground handlers, and Russian authorities.
To alleviate the situation, Air India announced that a relief aircraft would depart from Mumbai on Wednesday at 1 pm to transport the stranded passengers to their intended destination in San Francisco.
While a U.S. State Department spokesperson, Vedant Patel, acknowledged the likelihood of American citizens being onboard the flight, the exact number could not be immediately confirmed. The State Department expressed awareness of the emergency landing in Russia and assured that the situation was being closely monitored.
Concerns were raised by family and friends of the passengers through social media platforms, particularly regarding the lack of communication from Air India about the passengers’ well-being after 18 hours since landing. One commenter voiced frustration over the situation, questioning why contact had not been established with the passengers.
In a video shared on Twitter by a passenger, it revealed cramped living conditions in makeshift accommodations, with individuals sleeping on mattresses on the floor.
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Among the affected passengers was Girvaan Kaahma, 16, who was travelling with his uncle and brother. They encountered restrictions preventing them from leaving the hostel in Magadan and were unable to use their credit cards for purchases from vending machines due to sanctions related to Russia’s conflict with Ukraine.