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Air India Passengers Arrive in San Francisco After Flight Diverted to Russia

Written by Associated PressPublished Jun. 08, 2023 • 8:49am
Air India aircrafts stand at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, India on April 29, 2011. | Kevin Frayer/AP Photo

A replacement plane for an Air India flight diverted to Russia because of an engine problem landed in San Francisco on Thursday, carrying all passengers and crew, the airline said.

The original Boeing 777, which left New Delhi carrying 216 passengers and 16 crew members, landed at Magadan airport in Siberia in Russia's far east on Tuesday.

The original plane indicated it had low oil pressure in one engine and "out of caution (the pilots) elected to land the aircraft at a nearby airport rather than continue the journey," the airline said in a statement.

The replacement plane arrived in San Francisco at 12:07 a.m. Thursday local time, according to the website Flight Aware.

The airline also said it would fully refund passengers' fares and provide them with vouchers for future travel on Air India.

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said fewer than 50 American citizens were on the plane and the department was not aware of any of them reaching out to the U.S. Embassy in Russia or other diplomatic posts.

Passenger Girvaan Singh Kahma, 16, who was traveling with his uncle and brother, said they were barred from leaving the hostel in Magadan and were unable to use their credit cards because of sanctions over Russia's war on Ukraine.

"The first day and a half was really hard for all of us," he said. "The weather went to 3 to 4 degrees (Celsius) in the morning, and in the night it was bitter cold," he said, adding that it was getting better with food and a place to sleep.

"The Russian soldiers, the Russian police, the authorities, everyone working in the hostel has been treating us extremely well," he said.

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