The special aircraft, which also had on board about 137 others, touched down the tarmac at the Kochi International Airport at 11.57 am, a senior airport official said.

Family members of nurses, on whose face a sigh of relief was writ large had assembled in large numbers to see their beloved ones return and were joined by political leaders from BJP and Congress at the airport.

(Above: An Indian nurse speaks to media after arriving at Kochi)

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, whose coordinated effort with the Indian government helped in ensuring the safe release of the nurses, received them at the airport.
Chandy on Saturday thanked Narendra Modi-led government for ensuring the return of the Indian nurses from strife-hit Iraq with their safe evacuation capping days of anxiety for the state as it waited for a resolution to the crisis.

Read More: Special plane carrying Indian nurses lands in Kochi, Kerala CM receives them at airport

A visibly relieved Chandy expressed his gratitude for the Centre, especially External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, for bringing the matter to a happy conclusion.

Besides the nurses, the flight also carried 137 other Indian nationals, including 70 from Kirkuk in the northern part of Iraq, 23 crew members and three government officials, including a joint-secretary level IFS officer and an IAS woman officer from Kerala.

Kerala Government has made arrangements to enable nurses to reach their respective destinations across the state.

The ordeal of the nurses, who were working at a hospital in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, began when ISIS (Islamic State for Iraq and Syria) militants launched an offensive in that region on June nine.

Even as Indian authorities continued to maintain constant touch with their counterparts at Iraq for safe release of nurses, they were moved out on Thursday against their will and detained in the militant-held city of Mosul.

(JPN/Agencies)

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