New Delhi: The first batch of 12 Indians rescued from the ill-fated cruise ship 'Costa Concordia', which sank off the Tuscan coast in Italy on January 14, returned on Thursday with 60 others headed to other cities.

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

Twelve out of the over 200 Indians rescued from ship were flown to New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International airport here from Italy in an Emirates flight (EK 8512) via Dubai.

The flight arrived at 11.17 AM, but only four of them -- residents of Rajasthan, Uttarkhand and Himchal Pradesh – came out of Terminal 3.

"Out of the 12, six went to Goa, one each to Lucknow and Gauwahati by domestic flights," an official from Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs G H Ratra said.

The remaining about 125 rescued Indians will be flown back home on Friday, Ratra said.

Terming the incident as "unimaginable", 26-year-old Mukesh Kumar -- a resident of Hiruwa village of Rajasthan's Jhunjhunu -- said, "We are lucky to have survived as it was captain's fault that despite knowing the situation he had ordered for evacuation late when the situation went out of control.

"I am thankful to God that we are safe and happy to be back with our family," he added.

It was an emotional moment when Kumar was greeted by his sister and brother-in-law, who came to receive him at the airport.

"I have no words to describe to see my brother hail and hearty. It was the grace of the God that he and others were saved," said Kumar's sister Santosh.

(Agencies)