CALL: Jet Airways stewardess wants to find her saviour from the Brussels Airport terror attack

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Belgian television channel VTM launched a call tonight to find one of the saviours of Nidhi Chaphekar. Three years ago the Indian flight attendant became the face of the attacks in Zaventem. “This man is the only one I haven’t found yet. I want to thank all my rescuers because without them I would not have survived.”

Nidhi Chaphekar and the identikit of her rescuer © AP

On 22 March 2016, Nidhi Chaphekar (44) was seriously injured in the terror attacks on Brussels Airport. The iconic photo, in which she can be seen in her yellow uniform jacket, went around the world afterwards. That she survived, she owes to one man. He cared for her and five others for 45 minutes until they were taken to the hospital with an ambulance. In the meantime, she found all the other people who helped her that day: every nurse, doctor or police officer. But there is still no trace of this man.

I told him to keep me conscious, to keep talking,” says Nidhi. “He encouraged us and said we would survive. I absolutely want to find him. I have thanked everyone else who helped me in the meantime, but he is still missing. I can still remember his face well. I had seen him before at the airport. He was wearing a white shirt. I think it was a kind of uniform. He was working at the advanced medical unit.”

VTM already tried to find the man, who is between 40 and 50 years old. But the calls during the news and on the Facebook page of the channel received little response. “Now we have good hope,” says VTM’s Ellen Vanhove. “Because Farouk Özgünes, the Sherlock from VTM, and Frances Lefebure and her team from Make Belgium Great Again have put their all their energy to the effort this time. We had already contacted the companies at the airport because Nidhi’s testimony showed that the man worked there. But that did not lead us a step forward. Farouk then contacted Annet Ardesch, a Dutch forensic draftsman. She took an identikit based on the numerous details that the flight attendant could still remember. Ardesch and Nidhi were in contact via Skype.”

Tonight the viewers were invited to send in as many tips as possible. All calls are answered in a live call centre and calls can still be made in the coming days. Ellen Vanhove says: “Ideally, the man himself or one of his relatives should respond. Or one of the five other people he helped. We hope it is a Flemish person because Nidhi said that he spoke English very well and a language she could not bring home. That could be Dutch.”

He may not want to be found because he doesn’t want to relive the moment,” Nidhi Chaphekar tells from India. “But this time it has to work. I also released a separate place for him in my book that will be published this month in India. In Unbroken, there is a photo of everyone who helped me. Maybe we can also include the identikit of the last rescuer. The story is about Belgium and it is a beautiful story. I, therefore, want it to be translated into Dutch, French and German. In a few months, I will come to Belgium to present the book. I hope I can meet the royal family again at that time. No, I have not made any contacts yet, because first I want the journey to be finalised.”

The latter turns out not to be that easy because plane tickets are expensive and Nidhi has lost her job since the airline she worked for went bankrupt. “Finding a different job is almost impossible because I still have medical problems. We now live on my husband’s salary and that sometimes makes me a little sad. My husband doesn’t want me to travel alone, that’s why we need two plane tickets. So those are double costs. And it’s hard to survive. But I don’t want to dwell on that for too long. I want to live my life and enjoy it.”

Anyone who has tips can call +32 (0)800 113 19 or send an e-mail to makebelgiumgreatagain@vtm.be

(After VTM and Het Laatste Nieuws)

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