By ASHOK SHARMA
NEW DELHI (AP) — An Air India plane flying from New Delhi to San Francisco was diverted to Russia after it developed an engine problem, the airline said Wednesday.
The plane, a Boeing 777 carrying 216 passengers and 16 crew members, landed safely at Magadan airport in Siberia in Russia’s far east on Tuesday, Air India said in a statement.
The flight “developed a technical issue with one of its engines,” it said, adding that the aircraft was undergoing safety checks and the passengers were being provided support.
The airline said later Wednesday that a replacement plane was flying from Mumbai to Magadan to take the stranded passengers to San Francisco on Thursday.
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said that fewer than 50 American citizens were on the plane and the department was not aware of any of them reaching out to the U.S. Embassy in Russia or other diplomatic posts.
Girvaan Singh Kahma, 16, was traveling on the flight with his uncle and brother. He said they were barred from leaving the hostel where they were staying in Magadan and were unable to use their credit cards because of sanctions over Russia’s war on Ukraine.
“The first day and a half was really hard for all of us,” he said. “The weather went to 3 to 4 degrees (Celsius) in the morning, and in the night it was bitter cold,” he said, adding that it was getting better with food and a place to sleep.
“The Russian soldiers, the Russian police, the authorities, everyone working in the hostel has been treating us extremely well,” he said.
Associated Press writers Jerome Minerva in New York and Krutika Pathi in New Delhi contributed to this report.