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Flights on schedule even as Mumbai grapples with terrorists

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Firemen douse fire at the top floor of the Taj Mahal hotel after a terrorist attack in Mumbai on Thursday. PTI Photo

MUMBAI (BNS): Notwithstanding the worst-ever terrorist attack in Mumbai, flight operations from the country’s financial hub have largely remained unaffected, except the cancellation of five services by four international airlines.

The cancelled flights include two of Germany's flagship carrier Lufthansa, one each of Air France, US Delta and Northwest, airport sources said.

The services of most of the Indian carriers -- Air India, SpiceJet, Jet Airways, JetLite -- remained unaffected, they said, adding that flights to and fro Mumbai were operating as per schedule.

The sources said Vijay Mallya-owned Kingfisher Airlines had combined one flight each on Delhi-Mumbai, Bangalore-Mumbai, Hyderabad-Mumbai and Nashik-Mumbai sectors with other flights on the same routes.

The airlines has decided to combine four flights on Delhi-Mumbai sector, and one on Delhi-Bangalore sector with other flights on the same route on Saturday.

Due to the situation in Mumbai, Lufthansa's flight LH 756 from Frankfurt to Mumbai was diverted to New Delhi, and passengers and crew members were sent to hotels, an airline spokesperson said. The airlines has cancelled its Mumbai-Frankfurt flight (LH757), while its Frankfurt-Mumbai and Munich-Mumbai flight also remains cancelled.

One flight each of Air France to Paris, US' Delta Airlines to Seattle and Northwest were also cancelled as the crew members could not reach the airport on time.

Mumbai came under attack on Thursday night when terrorists carrying heavy machine guns and grenades targeted the city’s high-profile areas, leaving nearly 125 dead and over 327 injured. The dead include 11 policemen.

It is more than 24 hours and the security agencies are still grappling to flush out terrorists from the Jewish residential complex Nariman House. An occasional burst of fire and blasts have been reported from the Taj Mahal and the Trident Oberoi hotels which mainly bore the brunt of the terrorists' ire.

According to unconfirmed reports, two to three terrorists are still holed up inside the Taj hotel and they have held 15 to 16 people hostage.

Early on Friday morning, National Security Guard (NSG) commandos dramatically slithered down ropes from two military helicopters to the roof of a five-storey building to free the hostages.

Meanwhile, J K Dutt, Director General of elite National Security Guards commandos was quoted as saying that they would be able to mop up the operation very quickly. Sources said that three suspected terrorists, including a Pakistani national, were arrested from the Taj hotel late Thursday night.

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