Chennai: "It is a rebirth! Only god saved us", were the comments that gushed out of survivors of the ill-fated Italian oceanliner Costa Concordia on reaching here on Thursday. Nine survivors hailing from Tamil Nadu reached Chennai airport on Thursday night.
"Only god saved us," shouted Vaithiyanathan Arjunan into TV channels' mikes. He is one of the survivors who was airlifted by the external affairs ministry. Union Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed received nine survivors while a battery of officials helped the survivors complete the immigration and customs paper work as they had lost most of their travel documents.
The officials guided the survivors to waiting vehicles so that they could catch the train to Tiruchirapalli. Eight out of the nine are from Tiruchirapalli district and surrounding areas. Another survivor Bhuvanesh expressed his gratitude to the Indian officials. His mother Vasanthi told reporters that her son had called her on Friday and said he was fine.
The next day she told him not to panic when he called and expressed his fear as he had lost all his papers and certificates in the accident. The parents of survivor Ramkumar were also elated. Their son was earlier presumed to be missing.
According to Ramkumar's father Devendran, they had received a call on Saturday that he was safe. He said on Wednesday Ramkumar had called and conveyed the message that he will be coming here on Thursday.
An eight member batch of survivors would reach Tiruchirapalli directly from Dubai on Friday.