French airport provides makeshift base for Indians on grounded flight

Authorities launch judicial investigation into the conditions and purpose of the trip of 303 passengers

By Reuters

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Top Stories

A civil protection vehicle parked outside the Vatry airport, where an Airbus A340 plane carrying 303 Indian passengers is grounded on the tarmac. — AFP
A civil protection vehicle parked outside the Vatry airport, where an Airbus A340 plane carrying 303 Indian passengers is grounded on the tarmac. — AFP

Published: Sat 23 Dec 2023, 6:57 PM

Around 300 Indian nationals who were on board a plane grounded in France on suspicion of human trafficking were being cared for on Saturday in the hall of an airport in the eastern region of Marne while an investigation was ongoing, a local official said.

Marne emergency services had installed makeshift beds for the 303 stranded passengers, gave them access to toilets and showers and provided meals and hot drinks at Vatry airport, a spokeswoman for the Marne prefect's office said.

Officials from the Indian general consulate were visiting them regularly, she added in a statement.

Stay up to date with the latest news. Follow KT on WhatsApp Channels.

The flight, which was operated by Romanian charter company Legend Airlines, landed at Vatry on Thursday for a technical stopover when French police intervened, the Marne prefect's office said on Friday.

It said a judicial investigation into the conditions and purpose of the trip had been launched, with a unit specialising in organised crime investigating suspected human trafficking.

AFP reported the passengers on the grounded plane, which was bound for Nicaragua, included 13 unaccompanied minors.

The Paris public prosecution office said on Friday that two people were held for questioning, adding that authorities had been tipped off by an anonymous informant.

It gave no further information on Saturday.

A lawyer representing Legend Airlines said on Saturday the plane's crew had been released after questioning.

ALSO READ:

"The members of the crew have been questioned, the questioning has ended and they are all free to move. None has been put in custody," Liliana Bakayoko told BFM TV.

The flight was chartered by a "trusted" client, Bakayoko said, adding that it was a non-European company which the airline did not want to name.

Legend Airlines did not understand why the plane had been grounded, she added.

The Indian embassy in Paris and the Indian foreign ministry did not immediately reply to request for comment on Saturday.


More news from World