Mumbai: Nidhi Chaphekar, the 42-year-old Jet Airways crew member whose image sitting bloodied and dazed and her yellow uniform shredded in Brussels airport bombings became an iconic picture of the horror, returned home on Thursday to an emotional homecoming.
The mother of two from Mumbai, Nidhi, who has not yet recovered from the injuries suffered in the deadly terror attack on March 22, arrived here at around 7.30 am on a Paris-Mumbai Jet airways flight and was driven straight to Breach Candy hospital from the airport. She was injured from the force of the first blast of the attack.
Relieved on her return, Nidhi's husband Rupesh Chaphekar said, "We are extremely happy to have Nidhi back home with us in Mumbai after the horrific episode in Brussels."
"Her homecoming is an extremely emotional moment for all of us, especially her two children, who were reunited with her after six weeks as they could not travel to meet with her owing to their studies," he said.
Rupesh said the family has had a harrowing time since news on the brazen strikes trickled in.
On Nidhi's medical condition, he said, "Nidhi has received the best medical care and attention and has now recovered significantly from her injuries."
She will now continue her recovery process at a hospital in Mumbai. The most important thing for us now is that Nidhi makes a full recovery, he said.
Expressing his gratitude to doctors and medical staff in Brussels, Rupesh said, "We would like to thank them for the care they gave Nidhi during her stay in the hospital." He also thanked Jet Airways Jet management for the support they extended, not just to Nidhi but also to the family.
A Jet statement said Nidhi is in good spirits and is very happy to be back with her family. Airline officials said Nidhi has low immunity and doctors have advised her to avoid contact with people.
On March 22, three bombs went off - two at the Brussels airport and one at Mallbeek metro station – leaving 35 people dead, including three suicide bombers. Nidhi was on her way to board a Jet flight for Newark when the explosions took place. She suffered 15 per cent burns and fractured an ankle. Her colleague, Amit Motwani, was also injured and is still recovering at a Brussels hospital.
Nidhi, who was treated at Grande Hospital de Chaleroi, about 40 km from Brussels, was discharged yesterday afternoon and taken to Paris where she boarded the flight to Mumbai.
Nidhi spent about 25 days in medically induced coma at the Chaleroi hospital and underwent extensive skin grafting. Nidhi, who is still wheelchair-bound, was accompanied by her husband and brother-in-law Nilesh Chaphekar, besides the airline's support staff and its chief medical officer on her return. She has been with Jet Airways since August 1996.
A Jet statement said she has made significant recovery from her injuries sustained during the blasts at Brussels airport. Jet Airways continues to provide all the necessary support to Nidhi and her family during this time, it added.