A scheduled Delhi-Kabul Air India flight took off on time from the Capital’s Indira Gandhi National airport a little after noon but the reality on the ground in Afghanistan changed dramatically before it could commence its landing.
The two hour twenty minute flight had to hold in the air for nearly an hour. The Taliban army, which has swept the war-torn country, reached the outskirts of Kabul and officials in Kabul’s air traffic control were not available to help Air India Flight 243 land.
The commercial, passenger flight finally landed an hour later, amid tense moments and drama in the high skies. The flight is also bringing back diplomats and security officials posted at the Indian embassy in Kabul.
Indian consulates in Kandahar and Mazar-e-Sharif – two of Afghanistan’s largest cities – were handed over to local staff over the last four weeks and all Indians evacuated via special flights.
Only two days ago, the Ministry of External Affairs had said it was not closing the embassy in Kabul but the speed with which the gun-toting Talibs conquered province after province and raced to Kabul, stunned many, including the United States.
The United States sent helicopters to evacuate its staff from its mission in Kabul and asked its staff to delete all sensitive information.