Tamil Nadu

COVID-19: Indian tourists stranded at Kuala Lumpur airport

The international arrival hall at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Photograph used for representational purposes only

The international arrival hall at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Photograph used for representational purposes only   | Photo Credit: LIM HUEY TENG/REUTERS

A total of 54 tourists, mostly from Tamil Nadu, were scheduled to return on March 18, but are now stranded due to the suspension of flights

Indian tourists stranded at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport for the fourth day have appealed for the intervention of the Union government to facilitate their travel back home.

A total of 54 tourists, mostly from Tamil Nadu, were scheduled to return to India on March 18 but have been stranded due to the suspension of flights in view of the COVID-19 sitation.

A total of 54 tourists with over 30 hailing from Tamil Nadu have been stuck at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia with no means to return as all flights from the country to India have been cancelled.

The travellers, who were to return home on March 18 by a SriLankan Airlines flight via Colombo, had completed emigration and security checks and were seated at the waiting hall of the airport when the Centre announced the cancellation of flights, the passengers say.

Following the announcement, other passengers were allowed to board but those with Indian passports were left behind.

Usha Devi, a resident of Valayalkarar Street in Tiruchi who travelled along with four others from here complained of apathy on the part of the Indian government. Basic necessities such as food and a bed to sleep on are not being provided, she rued. “On March 18, our scheduled day of travel, we received no food or water. On March 19, SriLankan Airlines provided breakfast, lunch and dinner. On March 20, we were told that the Indian Embassy has been informed and that SriLankan Airlines was not responsible any more,” she said. Since food available at the airport is exorbitantly priced, they are unable to purchase proper meals, she added. Although the restrooms at the waiting hall were clean, the passengers had not been able to bathe in three days as all their clothes were in their checked-in baggage, she said.

Sharmila Abdul Lathief, a resident of Ashok Nagar in Chennai said that many senior citizens were also stuck with them. “They are struggling in the air-conditioned space with no place to sleep. We are all sleeping on the chairs at the waiting hall,” she said. “If we fall sick because of this, who will be responsible?” she asked. “There are so many other passengers travelling elsewhere waiting in this hall. What if we catch the coronavirus from someone here?” she asked.

When an Indian flight which arrived at the airport to airlift Indian students stuck in Malaysia on March 19 refused to board them, their hopes were shattered, Ms. Lathief said. “We begged to be taken home but the officials here said that the Indian government had not given them clearance to take us home yet,” she said.

An official of the Indian Embassy in Malaysia visited the passengers and said that measures to take them home are underway, Ms. Lathief said.

S. Sivarasu, Tiruchi District Collector who received a copy of the letter from the Indian Embassy in Malaysia to the Indian Government said that efforts to bring them back were on.

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2020 2:17:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/covid-19-indian-tourists-stranded-at-kuala-lumpur-airport/article31126242.ece

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