Nov 28, 2008

India - SA airways officials trapped in Oberoi

Pretoria, Nov 28 (IANS) Seven South Africans are still trapped in the Oberoi Hotel in Mumbai as the standoff continued following the terrorist attacks in India's commercial capital that left over 125 people dead, the foreign affairs department said here late Thursday.

'Seven South African Airways (SAA) crew are still trapped in the Oberoi Hotel. Seven others, including the three pilots are safe. Two South African Revenue Services officials are also safe,' Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa was quoted as saying by the news agency SAPA.

He said the government was in contact with those still inside the hotel.

SAA earlier sent an aircraft to Mumbai to pick up its crew and other South Africans after being advised that Mumbai's airport remained secure and safe. SAA chief executive Khaya Ngqula said he was greatly relieved that all crew members in Mumbai had been located.

'We are now working to ensure that we bring them, and our passengers, back to South Africa safely,' Ngqula added.

Meanwhile President Kgalema Motlanthe joined world leaders in extending South Africa's heartfelt condolences to the government and people of India, in particular to those families who lost loved ones.

The South African Consulate General in Mumbai received a number of calls from concerned families in South Africa as well as South African companies with employees in Mumbai including pilots and crew members from the South African Airways, Mamoepa said in a statement.

South African Consul General in Mumbai Busi Kuzwayo had also asked all South African companies based in Mumbai to inform him if any of their employees were in the vicinity of the hotels, hospital and restaurant that came under attack. The consul general is still awaiting feedback from these companies.

South Africans in Mumbai are being encouraged to contact the consulate general to report their presence and well-being.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) Thursday also expressed its concern at Wednesday night's terrorist attacks, but has not yet taken a stand on whether South African teams and players due to leave for Mumbai at the weekend for the inaugural Twenty20 Champions League would still do so.

On Thursday, it was announced in Mumbai that the League, scheduled to begin Dec 3, had been postponed but no fresh dates were immediately announced.

Two of the South African franchises, the Nashua Titans and the Nashua Dolphins, were due to leave for India at the weekend to play in the League competition. National captain Graeme Smith and fast bowler Makhaya Ntini are also contracted to play for the Rajasthan Royals and the Chennai Super Kings respectively. Some of the matches were scheduled to be held in Mumbai.

'The safety of our players is of paramount concern to us at all times,' said CSA CEO Gerald Majola. 'We will have to wait for guidance from the Department of Foreign Affairs as well as the people on the ground in India before we take any decisions.

'At the same time I would like to express sympathy to those who have been injured or lost loved ones in this tragic incident.'

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