MUSCAT // Omani airport police say the Indian Embassy failed to help an Indian woman who died last week after being stranded at Muscat airport for five days.
The Indian maid, identified as 40-year-old Beebi Lumada, died on Friday as paramedics rushed her from the airport to a mental hospital. She suffered a seizure at the airport where she had been staying since she lost her passport on October 3.
Lumada had lost her job as a maid in Oman and was trying to fly home to Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of the Indian state of Kerala. "We informed the Indian Embassy on Monday [October 4] to issue her a temporary passport to travel back to India. We reminded them the next day and the day after, but each time they said they were doing it but did not do it," said a police officer at Muscat airport, who did not want to be identified.
"If they acted fast enough, she would have probably been back home alive since last week." Lumada's sponsors cancelled her visa because of her erratic behaviour, according to an Indian Embassy official. She had worked for the family for only two months.
She boarded a Qatar Airways flight on October 3 from Muscat to Qatar but lost her passport after boarding in Muscat. Without her passport, she was unable to board her Doha flight to Chennai, in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
Qatar Airways said yesterday that company policy for handling a passenger attempting to fly without a passport is to return the person to their point of origin. Qatar Airways sent her back to Muscat the same evening. She arrived with a cancelled visa and without a passport so she was not allowed to leave the airport.
"We informed the Indian Embassy the second day," a Qatar Airways official in Muscat said.
She slept in the lounge for five nights, with Qatar Airways providing her with food and blankets, while waiting for the embassy to provide her with a temporary passport, the airport official said. A medical practitioner who examined her said in an interview that Lumada died of heart failure probably caused by trauma triggered by a seizure. An Indian Embassy official said that the body was expected to be flown back home yesterday.
Some readers left sharp comments on the website of India's leading newspaper. "Let me ask the authorities in Muscat, if it was a US citizen, this would have been your response?" P. Johnson, a US citizen of Indian origin, wrote on timesofindia.com. "Keep a helpless woman in the airport for five days and let her die? Shame on you. Shame on you. Is an Indian citizen this worthless?"