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December 31, 1999
Hostages are fine except for minor ailments
Josy Joseph in New Delhi
The hostages of Flight 814 are "fine except for stress and minor stomach ailments," an 11-member medical team that treated them at the New Delhi airport has pronounced.
Only one patient has been hospitalised. The man, who had been released for treatment in Kandahar but returned to the plane, was believed to be suffering from stomach cancer.
However, Dr R N Kalhan, who headed the medical team that comprised doctors from the Safdurjung and Ram Manohar Lohia hospitals, felt that it could be just a case of ulcers.
"We don't believe there's anything seriously wrong with any of the passengers," he told rediff.com.
Five people were weak but not so much so that they needed hospitalisation. The 15-year-old boy, who had been suffering from kidney ailment and was vomiting, the doctor said, "is now okay."
The passengers were given medical aid on the flight to Delhi.
A visibly tired Captain D Saran, the pilot of the airbus, was escorted out from the airport by a relative.
External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh, meanwhile, has said that India would take a firm stand against terrorism at all times. The safety of the passengers was uppermost on the government's mind, he said.
He added that he would detail the reasons that prompted the government to compromise with the hijackers at a press conference tomorrow.
For their part, some of the hostages expressed anger at the way India handled the crisis. "This is a New Year's eve that we will never forget," one said.
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