Brussels attacks: Thank God Nidhi Chaphekar is alive, says family

Front pages of several Dutch newspapers,in the Hague, The Netherlands, 23 March 2016 one day after at least 31 people were killed in and hundreds injured in bombings at Zaventem Airport and on a metro train in Brussels, Belgium, 22 March 2016. Image copyright EPA
Image caption Nidhi Chaphekar (in yellow jacket) is a flight attendant with Jet Airways and a mother of two

The woman is sitting bloodied and dazed with a leg stretched across a seat at Brussels's Zaventem airport moments after the suicide bomb attack on Tuesday.

Her bright yellow blazer is shredded by the force of the blast, her hair is covered with soot and her face streaked with blood.

On Wednesday, the woman, whose photograph has become the most haunting image of the attacks, was identified as an airline worker from India.

Her family in the city of Mumbai have named her as Nidhi Chaphekar, a 40-year-old flight attendant with Jet Airways and a mother of two.

"We were searching through the internet to try and get details of the blasts when we saw the pictures," her brother-in-law Nilesh Chaphekar told the Associated Press news agency.

"The first reaction was 'she's alive. By God's grace she is alive'."

Ms Chaphekar was one of the two Indian crew members of a Jet Airways flight bound for Newark in the US who were injured in the blast.

Tuesday's attacks at Zaventem airport and Maelbeek metro left 31 people dead and about 300 wounded. The so-called Islamic State (IS) group has said it was behind the attacks.

'Shocked and speechless'

Ms Chaphekar's photograph - taken by Ketevan Kardava, a journalist with the Georgian Public Broadcaster network - was widely shared around the world on social media sites with the #PrayForNidhi hashtag.

"She was in shock, speechless," Ms Kardava, who was her way to Geneva on assignment, told Time magazine.

"There was no crying, no shooting. She was only looking around with fear."

Ms Chaphekar, who has been working for the Mumbai-based Jet Airways for nearly two decades, and her colleague, flight supervisor Amit Motwani, are "recovering well" in hospital, the airline has said.

The last medical update received by the family says "she's responding well to medication", Nilesh Chaphekar said.

"We have been told there are some fractures and burns but we don't know the extent."

Many Indians took to social media to describe Ms Chaphekar as the "iconic face" of the blasts.

Some said it was insensitive of the media to publish the picture.

The Indian Express reported that Mrs Chaphekar and Mr Motwani were "proceeding towards the airport exit when the blasts took place".

A spokesperson of Jet Airways told BBC that the families of both the employees were on their way to Brussels.

The airport remains closed.

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