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Indian Airlines official Vikram Badshah
"Some passengers were allowed to change their clothes"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 28 December, 1999, 20:18 GMT
Poor conditions on board plane

International aid organisations are standing by International aid organisations are standing by

Conditions on board the hijacked Indian airliner parked on the tarmac at Kandahar, southern Afghanistan, have been worsening.

The stand-off has entered its fifth day and the pilot of the aircraft has described the situation for passengers and crew as "terrible".

A breakdown of the plane's engines on Tuesday meant that the air-conditioning unit was cut off. The doors of the aircraft were opened to let in fresh air, while an engineer was allowed on board to repair the damage.

Normally after four or five days hostages start losing their patience and can suffer a nervous breakdown
Dr Vishal Sharma
Reports say the stench from the aircraft is overwhelming and concern is rising over the physical and mental conditions of the hostages.

A doctor, part of the Indian team that was sent on Monday, said those on board would be under tremendous psychological pressure.

"Normally after four or five days hostages start losing their patience and can suffer a nervous breakdown," Dr Vishal Sharma said.

"Either they react violently against their hijackers in frustration or they can start sympathising with them. We fear both scenarios may happen," Dr Sharma said.

An Indian diplomat said two of the passengers on board had cancer and their condition could worsen in the cold.

Temperatures in Kandahar drop below freezing at night and the Taleban guards ringing the aircraft have lit small fires to stay warm.

Food and drink

But Indian officials said the hostages had been allowed to change their clothes and were served food and water.

Food and water is passed into the aircraft Food and water is passed into the aircraft
"As per our information, the toilets are being cleaned," an official told relatives of the hostages in Delhi.

Earlier, the hijackers refused to accept food from the Taleban, angered at the presence of guards around the aircraft.

But on Tuesday morning, they accepted a breakfast of eggs, bread and mineral water.

The Taleban have been serving the hostages rice and lentils, since many of the Indian passengers are vegetarians.

A doctor with the International Committee of the Red Cross, Anwar Uddin, said the hostages would be in shock when eventually released.

"We are expecting that so we are ready with sedatives and with glucose, because they have had no fresh air or good food for four days," he said.

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See also:
26 Dec 99 |  South Asia
In pictures: The Indian Airlines hijack
25 Dec 99 |  South Asia
Chronology of a hijack
27 Dec 99 |  South Asia
Relatives' fury over hijack 'fiasco'
27 Dec 99 |  South Asia
Indian media slams government

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