Friday 9 December 2016

'She's alive, by God's grace she is alive' - Family tell how they found out their loved one survived Brussels attacks

Published 23/03/2016 | 17:47

Firefighters and first responders stand in front of the damaged Zaventem Airport terminal in Brussels on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Frederic Sierakowski, Pool)
Firefighters and first responders stand in front of the damaged Zaventem Airport terminal in Brussels on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Frederic Sierakowski, Pool)
Injured women are seen in Brussels Airport in Brussels, Belgium, after explosions were heard Tuesday, March 22, 2016. (Ketevan Kardava/ Georgian Public Broadcaster via AP)

A woman sitting bloodied and dazed just moments after the Brussels airport bombings was one of the most haunting images from the attacks.

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The woman's family in India saw the photo after Tuesday's blasts. They identified her as Nidhi Chaphekar, a 40-year-old Jet Airways flight attendant and mother of two from Mumbai.

"We were searching through the internet to try and get details of the blasts when we saw the pics," her brother-in-law Nilesh Chaphekar told reporters. "The first reaction was 'she's alive, by God's grace she is alive'."

Ms Chaphekar's yellow uniform was apparently shredded from the force of one of the blasts. Her hair was caked with soot, and blood streaked down her face. Another woman in the photo is frantically making a phone call with a bloodied hand.

She sat with one leg stretched across airport seating while the other dangled over the floor. A bloodied right foot was raised just enough so it was not hitting shards of broken glass scattered across the floor.

But it was the look of shock and numbness on her face that captured the horror of the attacks, leading many around the world to share the photo on social media sites with the #PrayForNidhi hashtag.

Her family, including her husband, 11-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son, are now trying to get to Brussels to be with her. But Brussels airport remains closed.

"We've got visas now, but we are still not sure exactly what route we should take to reach her as soon as possible," Mr Chaphekar said. "We are trying to figure out the nearest airport we can fly into."

He added that the "the last medical update we've had is that she's responding well to medication. We have been told there are some fractures and burns but we don't know the extent."

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