Brussels attacks iconic survivor launches new call to find mystery savior

Brussels attacks iconic survivor launches new call to find mystery savior
Nidhi Chaphekar, a survivor of the Brussels attacks in 2016, is trying to find a man who she says saves her. Credit: © Jan Aelberts/Belga

An Indian flight attendant who has become an iconic survivor of the Brussels attacks on Zaventem airport is renewing a call to find a mystery man who she says saved her life on that day.

"I want to thank all my rescuers because without them I would not have survived," Nidhi Chaphekar, 44, said, according to HLN.

Chaphekar was working at the airport on 22 March 2016, when Brussels became a target for a coordinated onslaught by radicalised suicide bombers, in an attack claimed by the Islamic State in which 32 civilians died.

She gained notoriety after a picture, in which she can be seen with a bloodied face in her dust-covered yellow uniform after the deadly blasts, made the headlines the world over, with Belgium's royal couple meeting Chaphekar in the royal palace a year after the attacks in March 2016.

Chaphekar, who fell into a coma at the time and had to undergo several surgeries on her way to recovery, has said she owes her life to the people who helped her and others after the attacks, and that she wants to thank them all.

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She has found and thanked every doctor, nurse, and first-responder she says helped her, but, after years of searching, she is still searching for one man, whose face she says she can still remember.

"I told him to keep me conscious, to keep talking," Chaphekar said, according to the outlet. "He encouraged us and said we would survive, I absolutely want to find him."

A nation-wide call launched at the weekend through major Flemish broadcaster VTM is Chaphekar's latest attempt to find her mystery hero.

During Sunday programming, the network called on members of the public to help identify the man, setting up a live call centre to support the search, according to Het Nieuwsblad.

With no picture available, a composite portrait of the man's likeness is being used, with the network describing him as a man of slim built, with blond hair and aged between 40 and 50 years old.

"I can still remember his face well, I had seen him before at the airport," Chaphekar, who has written a book about the attacks she hopes to translate into Dutch and French, told HLN.

"He may not want to be found because he doesn't want to relive the moment," Nidhi Chaphekar told the outlet. “But this time it has to work."

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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