‘By God’s grace she is alive’: Family finds woman in iconic Brussels blast photo, two women wounded in Brussels Airport in Brussels, Belgium, after explosions were heard Tuesday, March 22, 2016. A developing situation left at least one person and possibly more dead in explosions that ripped through the departure hall at Brussels airport Tuesday, police said. All flights were canceled, arriving planes were being diverted and Belgium’s terror alert level was raised to maximum.
Nidhi Chaphekar, a 40-year-old Jet Airways flight attendant, sat bloodied and dazed, her yellow uniform shredded from the force of the first blast of yesterday’s deadly terror attacks in Brussels.
As she looked up, another woman took her picture.
The image of the mother of two from Mumbai, India, spread through social media Tuesday and onto front pages of newspapers around the world Wednesday as one of the most iconic images of the horror in Brussels.
It was that haunting image that reached her family in India first.
“We were searching through the Internet to try and get details of the blasts when we saw the pics,” her brother-in-law Nilesh Chaphekar told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “The first reaction was ‘she’s alive. By God’s grace she is alive.'”
Her family, including her husband, 11-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son, is now trying to get to Brussels to be with her. But Brussels airport remains closed.
“We’ve got visas now, but we are still not sure exactly what route we should take to reach her as soon as possible,” Nilesh Chaphekar told the AP. “We are trying to figure out the nearest airport we can fly into.”
He added that the “the last medical update we’ve had is that she’s responding well to medication. We have been told there are some fractures and burns but we don’t know the extent.”
Ketevan Kardava, 36, a special correspondent in Brussels of Georgian Public Broadcaster, remembers the moment she saw Chaphekar. She was in the departure hall of the Brussels Airport in Belgium headed to Geneva on an assignment when the first explosion went off a meter and a half from where she was standing.
Her first reaction was to take out her camera as glass, debris and smoke swirled in the air around her.
“When I realized that I was alive, the first thing I did was take photo,” Kardava told USA TODAY in a phone interview Tuesday. “You know, a journalist’s job. The first photo I took was the woman in the yellow jacket.”
“I was shouting “Doctor! Doctor! Doctor! And no one was there … What do you do in this situation if you’re a journalist? Help? Ask doctor to come? Or take a photo?” she said, pausing to compose herself. “In that very moment, I realized that to show the world what was happening in this moment of terror, a photo was more important.”
For now, Kardava is safe, but she spoke with a shaky voice, repeating “I was not able to help them.” She said she doesn’t know how she will carry on with her career as a photojournalist.
“How can I go to the airport next time? We are journalists. We are fearless, right? Time will come, and it will be necessary for me to go to the same airport and leave from the same metro station where the second explosion was. How can I take the metro and go to the airport? How can I go to the very place I felt such terrible things. I don’t know. I don’t know.”