After a scary ordeal that lasted more than a day in quake-hit Nepal, the 23-member Indian Under-14 girls football team returned to the country safely on board an Indian Air Force aircraft on Sunday, April 26.

Eighteen players and five support staff members, who had gone to Nepal to take part in an Asian Football Confederation regional tournament, landed at the Delhi airport at around 5:45pm on an IAF Aircraft C-17 on Sunday. They were among 237 persons who had boarded the aircraft from Kathmandu.

The players and the officials stayed the night at the Ibis hotel at Aerocity near the Indira Gandhi International airport and left for their respective homes on Monday, April 27 .

The players were practicing at the Dasarath Stadium in Kathmandu for the third-place play-off against Iran when the earthquake shook the venue and adjoining areas on Saturday, April 25. They ran to the middle of the pitch and remained there even as the stadium shook and buildings collapsed in the adjoining areas.

The scared girls and the support staff then decided to sleep in the open space at the hotel premises and not in their rooms at Hotel View Bhrikuti in Kathmandu on Saturday for the fear of further aftershocks.

“We reached Kathmandu airport around 9 am local time by a bus and then waited for some time while trying to find the embassy people. Then there was fresh tremors and that delayed our departure. But we finally boarded the Air Force plane and all are safe,” Rocky said.

Earlier in the day, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had tweeted about the rescue mission.

All India Football Federation President Praful Patel thanked the Government of India, the Air Force and Nepal Football Association for the safe airlifting of the players and support staff, and said it will contribute Rs 11 lakh to Nepal for earthquake relief.

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