Air India pilot Amitabh Singh, the man who flew the special aircraft to Wuhan to bring back the stranded Indian citizens from the epicentre of coronavirus has described the scene of the city as apocalyptic. The pilot said that he could see well-lit streets but they were all deserted.
"Normally when you are descending and landing into any city, especially that of the size of Wuhan, there is a lot of radiotelephonic chatter, a lot of aircraft flying around. You are normally stacked up in the landing sequence. But that was not the case this time, it was deathly quiet," Singh said while describing the scene of Wuhan.
He further added, "after landing, there was no aircraft movement, we were the only aircraft. We were not even allowed to get off the aircraft.
So,it was kind of apocalypse."
The pilot also said that the Indians who were being evacuated had a sense of relief on their faces.
"The passengers were very scared and worried but there was also a sense of relief. It was not just an Air India flight but India itself that they were getting into. There was a lot of clapping and jaijaikar for the government and the crew as we took off," he said.
"Our orders were to fly in, evacuate and fly out, keeping everyone safe. It was a tall order, but we had a very good team. We had a lot of support from the government, especially the health ministry. We had good doctors from Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and Safdarjung Hospital. So yes, we pulled it off well," the pilot said.
He also spoke of the challenges faced by the crew which were both administrative and precautionary. "There were challenges related to getting visa for all of the staff and the crew in time. Because without the visa we couldn't have travelled. Then we had to take precautions. We had to make sure that the pilots and the crew members did not get infected. Otherwise, we were putting everyone's life at risk. Air India has been involved in a lot of evacuations before and we were well geared up," the pilot added.
He described the seven Maldivians travelling with them on the aircraft as fellow human beings and said that there was no differential treatment between the Indian citizens and those of the Maldives.
The city of Wuhan is the capital of Hubei province which is the epicentre of the mysterious new strain of coronavirus that has taken over 1,500 lives. The Indian government flew special flights to rescue its citizens stranded in Wuhan. Along with the Indian citizens, 7 Maldivians were also evacuated.