New Delhi: As war intensified in Iraq’s ISIS-controlled Tikrit, the 46 Indian nurses trapped in a hospital were forced to take shelter in the basement of the building.
With Iraqi forces launching strikes against ISIS to wrest control of the city, there were fresh bombings and gunfire in the hospital vicinity on Tuesday.
One can easily make out from sounds in the background and around them that they live in a basement in constant fear.
They do not know whether the rebels or the government controls their city, a person who did not wish to be identified and in touch with the nurses said.
“The nurses said they were offered rice and pulses yesterday (on Monday). They cooked their food thereafter. They said they also got water,” said the person.
The nurses, many of whom are from Kerala, told Indian officials over phone that they had been asked by a gunman to move to the basement of the hospital.
One of the nurses, Marina Jose, told BBC that they were in the hospital kitchen located in the basement of the building. “We are scared. We don’t know how to stay here,” said Jose.
Indian officials have found their hands tied in dealing with the situation in Tikrit as the city remains under ISIS’ control, making evacuation by road impossible for now.
The nurses have been advised repeatedly to remain indoors, like all other Indians caught in the conflict zone.
The nurses who used to speak to a few media personnel from Thiruvananthapuram, now do not attend their calls.
The nurses have some idea about who controls Tikrit, the hometown of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, as there were reports about bombings in the place.
On Sunday evening, one bomb landed just about 150 metres away from where they were staying earlier, before moving into the basement of another building Monday.
The electricity supply to the basement is from generators and there is also a doctor in the hospital.