Friday, April 03, 2020

US citizens sceptical about rescue plans, reaching airports a challenge

Hyderabad: A day after the US Embassy in India and consulates announced that repatriation efforts were underway for its citizens stranded in India, people are sceptical about how they are expected to make it to cities from where flights would be operated, with each case posing a unique challenge.

On Wednesday, the US Consulate General in Mumbai tweeted: “Alert for US Citizens in Western and Southern India: We anticipate we will have several flights departing Mumbai and arriving in Atlanta, Georgia, beginning the weekend of April 4. We will contact you as we develop more details.”

Anand Vihari, a US citizen, said: “I came to India because my father, who lives in Bengaluru, was ailing. Before flying back to the US, I decided to visit my friends in Hyderabad for a day. But once I got here, janata curfew was announced and I couldn’t get a cab to the airport. Subsequently, all flights were suspended. Now, I am stuck.”

Describing his position as a Catch-22 situation, the resident of North Carolina, said, “I am staying at a hotel (one of the few still open) and don’t know when I will be able to get back, either to my family in Bengaluru or my wife and children in the US. Also, the flights that are being organized for US citizens are from Delhi or Mumbai and I don’t know how I can get there. I would be glad if there was some way I can at least go back to Bengaluru, if not the US.” He remained wary of leaving India because -- with the US becoming the epicenter of Covid-19 cases – he was not sure if we would be allowed to fly back again anytime soon.

Priyanka Chakravarthy, a resident of New Jersey and who came to India on March 13 for her father’s first death anniversary, said, “How will I travel when there is a complete lockdown? It is impossible for someone to drive me to Mumbai.” Her husband and daughter are in the US and she wants to be reunited with them soon.

The Consulate, on its part, assured citizens that there will be multiple flights and that travel passes will be arranged for those impacted by the lockdown. In a Covid-19 related heath alert on Wednesday, it also said, “In cooperation with the US Consulates General in Chennai and Hyderabad, we are also working to arrange domestic charter flights to allow US Citizens from those areas to reach Mumbai.”
03/04/20 Uttara Varma, Sudipta Sengupta/Times of India
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