Air India reserve plane to ferry passengers stranded in Russia; US 'monitoring situation'

The flight had to land at an airport in Magadan due to technical issues

AIRSHOW-INDIA/BOEING Representation | Reuters

A reserve Air India plane will leave for Russia's far eastern town of Magadan on Wednesday afternoon to ferry passengers of the Air India flight AI173 from Delhi to San Francisco which had an emergency landing at an airport in Magadan due to technical issues. 

A statement by Russian aviation authority Rosaviatsia said it permitted the reserve plane to land in Magadan, a port town on the Sea of Okhotsk. However, a statement by the Air India said the reserve plane will fly from Mumbai to take the stranded passengers to the destination at 1 pm on Wednesday with "food and other essentials for our passengers". The statement added that all the passengers have been moved to a makeshift facility in Magadan considering the infrastructure limitation in the remote town.

"As we do not have Air India staff based in the remote town of Magadan or in Russia, all ground support being provided to passengers is the best possible in this unusual circumstance through our round the clock liason with the Consulate General in India in Vladivostok..", the statement added.

The flight which had an emergency landing carried 216 passengers and 16 crew onboard. According to the airline, the aircraft was forced to divert and land after a technical issue with one of its engines. The flight landed safely. 

Meanwhile, the United States on Tuesday said it is closely monitoring the situation after the flight made an emergency landing in Russia.

"We are aware of a US-bound flight that had to make an emergency landing in Russia and are continuing to monitor that situation closely. I'm not able to confirm how many US citizens were aboard the flight at this time," State Department Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters at his daily news conference.

"It was a flight that was bound for the United States. So, it is, of course, likely that there are American citizens on board. There's public reporting from Air India that they are sending what my understanding is a replacement aircraft to the destination to have the passengers carry on for their route, but I would defer to the air carrier to speak to anything further on this," Patel said in response to a question.


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