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Updated December 26th, 2023 at 07:28 IST

Flight grounded in France over trafficking suspicions reaches Mumbai, here's all you need to know

After being grounded in France due to suspected trafficking, 276 out of 303 Indian passengers have finally arrived in Mumbai following a 4-day delay.

Reported by: Digital Desk
The Nicaragua-bound flight that was grounded in France.
The Nicaragua-bound flight that was grounded in France. | Image:AP
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Mumbai: A plane, carrying mostly Indian passengers that was grounded in France for four days due to suspected human trafficking concerns, has finally arrived in Mumbai in the early hours of Tuesday, confirmed an official.

The Airbus A340 landed at Mumbai's airport shortly after 4 am, having departed from Vatry airport near Paris at approximately 2:30 pm local time.

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Events in France and whereabouts of the missing 27 passengers

French authorities reported that the plane had 276 passengers destined for Mumbai, as 25 individuals, including two minors, expressed their intention to seek asylum and remained on French soil. Two others were also detained and presented before a judge; subsequently, they were released and placed under assisted witness status, according to a PTI report.

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Upon its initial landing at Vatry airport, there were 11 unaccompanied minors among the 303 Indian passengers on board, as informed by a local official. Passengers stranded during this period were provided with makeshift bedding, access to restroom facilities, showers, and meals, along with hot beverages, in the airport hall, the official confirmed.

Details of the flight and ongoing probe 

Operated by Romanian charter company Legend Airlines, the flight was originally bound for Nicaragua but had landed in Vatry for a technical stopover on its route from Dubai. However, French authorities intervened, launching a judicial investigation into the purpose and conditions of the flight. A unit specialising in organised crime was tasked with probing the suspected human trafficking incident.

Nicaragua has emerged as a sought-after destination for individuals seeking asylum in the United States. Statistics from the US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) reveal a significant rise in attempted illegal entry by Indians into the US during the 2023 fiscal year, with a staggering 51.61 percent surge compared to the previous year. Among these attempts, approximately 41,770 Indians attempted to enter the US via the Mexican land border, according to CBP data.

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Flights bound for Nicaragua or other countries where obtaining travel documents is comparatively easier have been dubbed 'dunki' flights due to their association with such immigration attempts.

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Published December 26th, 2023 at 07:28 IST

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