December 26, 2023
NEW DELHI – The Nicaragua-bound Airbus A340 carrying around 300 Indians, which was grounded over “human trafficking” fears, has finally taken off from France, according to French media reports. The plane is heading to Mumbai.
The passenger plane was held by French authorities at a small Vatry airport, 150 kilometre east of Paris, during a stopover for refueling on Thursday (December 21) after an “anonymous tip-off.”
The plane that took off from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, was reportedly carrying 303 passengers including a 21-month-old child and 11 minors.
It was going to Nicaragua as “a jumping off spot for the United States or Canada.”
The passengers were questioned for two days and French prosecutors gave their go-ahead for the plane to leave on Sunday and it finally left for Mumbai today.
French authorities, however, have detained two of the passengers “to verify” their role in the alleged human trafficking.
Authorities will investigate whether their role “may have been different than the others in this transport, and under what conditions and with what objectives.”
French authorities set up a temporary shelter at Vatry airport and police sealed off the area. Beds, toilets and showers were installed for the passengers at the airport.
At least 12 of the passengers reportedly sought asylum in France. It is not clear if their request has been accepted by the French authorities or not.