Air India plane flying to San Francisco lands in Russia after engine problem, US citizens ‘likely’ onboard


A U.S.-bound Air India plane carrying 216 passengers and 16 crew members was diverted to a port city in Russia after the aircraft developed an engine problem, officials said on Wednesday. The aircraft was “likely” carrying U.S. citizens, a U.S. State Department official confirmed.

The plane, a Boeing 777, safely landed in Magadan, Russia, on Tuesday evening after the large aircraft developed a glitch midair and was then diverted “and landed safely at Magadan Airport in Russia.” The aircraft was flying from New Delhi to San Francisco, California

The plane landed safely in the northeastern Russia port city, and is working with local port authorities, Air India said in a statement. 

Air India

An aircraft of Air India Ltd. in Mumbai, India, on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023. Air India announced a 470-plane order with Airbus SE and Boeing Co., underscoring the industries’ recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and the airlines ambition to become a global force after years of contraction.  (Indranil Aditya/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Magadan is a sparsely populated oblast, with just 136,085 citizens, according to a 2021 census. Due to the limited resources, Air India said that passengers were “eventually moved to makeshift accommodations.” 

“As we do not have any Air India staff based in the remote town of Magadan or in Russia, all ground support being provided to the passengers is the best possible in this unusual circumstance through our round the clock liaison with the Consulate General of India in Vladivostok, Indian ministry of external affairs, local ground handlers and Russian authorities,” the statement said.

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Air India said a relief aircraft will depart from Mumbai at 1pm on Wednesday for Magadan to take stranded Air India passengers to their final destination in San Francisco. 

Air India aircraft

Air India aircraft stand on the tarmac at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi  (SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP via Getty Images)

Vedant Patel, a U.S. State Department spokesperson, said that American citizens were likely on the flight but could not immediately confirm how many. 

“We are aware of a US-bound flight that had to make an emergency landing in Russia and are continuing to monitor that situation closely,” Patel said. “I am not able to confirm how many US citizens were aboard the flight at this time.”

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Family and friends shared their outrage on Twitter following Air India’s statement on the stranded passengers whereabouts. 

“How come no one has been able to reach the passengers in 18 hours after landing?” one disgruntled commenter wrote in a Twitter post to Air India.

Air India aircrafts

Air India aircrafts stand at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, India, April 29, 2011. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer, File)

On Wednesday morning, a Twitter user shared a video which he said was taken by one of the passengers. 

The footage showed Air India passengers in cramped living quarters, sleeping on mattresses on the floor. 

Girvaan Kaahma, 16, was traveling on the flight with his uncle and brother. He said they are barred from leaving the hostel where they are staying in Magadan and can’t use their credit cards to buy items from the vending machine because of sanctions over Russia’s war on Ukraine.

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The U.S. Department of State did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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