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46 Indian nurses stranded in Iraq freed, to reach Kerala Saturday

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy also confirmed that the nurses are being freed and will be flown to India soon.

IRAQ-INDIA-HEALTH

Government sources told CNN IBN that the nurses will stay in Erbil and will be flown to Cochin from Erbil on Saturday in a special aircraft. All the necessary papers will be provided to them.

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told IANS over telephone from New Delhi that an Air India flight will depart from the Indian capital Friday evening to Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan.

“There will be one official each from the Kerala and central governments on the plane,” he said. “The nurses will board the flight at Erbil and the plane will reach Kochi at 7 am. tomorrow.”

The nurses from Kerala, who were moved in a vehicle by rebels from their hospital in Tikrit, were being held at an old building near a hospital in Mosul and are safe, according to family members of a nurse in Kottayam.

Though they are lodged in a godown-like hall without power, their abductors treated them well, mother of one of the nurses said.
Chandy confirmed that the nurses are being freed and will be flown to India soon.

“The nurses are being taken to the Erbil airport,” Chandy told IANS. “They are set to return to India.”

Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan, is located about 60 km from Mosul, the insurgent stronghold which the nurses reached Thursday night after being forced out of their hospital in Tikrit.

The development triggered a wave of joy in Kerala, where nursing is a major profession and whose nurses serve in hospitals all across India and in many countries.

The family of one of the nurses added that all of them were on their way from Mosul to Erbil, 60 km away.

A group of Keralites and Indian embassy officials from Baghdad were at the border of Kurdistan to receive the nurses, an official source told IANS.

“They have to cross three or four checkposts at the Kurdistan border,” the official added. “Our people are there at the final checkpost.”

The chief minister, who has been camping in New Delhi since the crisis erupted, said the latest development took place due to the efforts of the Kerala and the central governments.

The 46 nurses were put in a bus from Tikrit Thursday afternoon in the company of armed militants and driven to Mosul, where they reached late at night.

On Friday morning, they were given food and allowed to speak over the telephone to their families in Kerala.

One of the 46 nurses from Kerala has spoken to her mother and said all of them were safe.

Her mother told reporters here Friday that she got a call from her daughter in Mosul and things are fine.

“She just called and said they reached Mosul late on Thursday. She was able to sleep around 2 am. She said they are put in a building and there are armed people guarding them from outside,” said the nurse’s mother.

“She said they gave them food and water and are behaving with them in a decent manner and till now things are fine,” the mother added.

The mother, however, did not say if these nurses will have to provide medical treatment to those injured in Mosul and were in hospitals.

“No, she never said anything like that,” said the mother.

Source : Yahoo India