New Delhi:  The first group of 72 of over 200 Indians rescued from the Italian cruise ship 'Costa Concordia', which hit a rock and sank off the Tuscan coast in Italy last week, returned home on Thursday.

Of these, 12 arrived at New Delhi in an Emirates flight (Ek 8512) from Dubai, while 38 flew to Mumbai in two flights, nine each to Chennai and Hyderabad, three at Bangalore and one in Kolkata, an official from Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs said.

"We are lucky to have survived," they said relieved to be back home after their traumatic experience.

There were a total of 203 Indians on board the ill-fated ship - one passenger and 202 crew members. Of them, 201 Indians were rescued and 31-year-old Robello Russel Terence from

Mumbai is missing. One of the rescued, whose wife is an Italian national, has decided to stay back.

The remaining about 128 rescued Indians will be flown back home on Friday, the official said.

Of the 12, who were flown to New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International airport here from Italy in an Emirates flight (EK 8512) via Dubai, six went to Goa, one each to Lucknow and Gawahati by domestic flights, soon after their arrival.
   
"Of the rest four, one has gone to Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan, one to Dehradun, one to Himachal Pradesh while one who actually hails from Kotdwar, had decided to stay with his friend here," the official said.

(Agencies)