Minutes after the Brussels attacks targeting the Zaventem Airport, images of the attack’s devastation circulated online like a storm. One of these images that shook the world is a photo of a woman whose yellow dress was shattered and body filled with blood, showing how powerful the blast was.
The woman, later identified as Nidhi Chaphekar, 41, an Indian flight attendant of Jet Airways. The photo drew mixed reactions among social media users. Some expressed concerns and some were intrigued to know her condition. It appeared on the image that she was in a state of shock.
According to a report from the Times of India, a few hours after the blast, personnel from the airlines where Nidhi works as an inflight manager called her husband, Rupesh, informing the family of her condition.
Rupesh, a businessman, learned that his wife underwent an operation for the injuries and burns she got from the blast. He added that he is yet to talk to her wife as of late. “For the whole day we did not have any information. All they told us was she is safe. But how do I know if they are not just giving us false hopes? I just want to hear her voice once. Only the airline’s base manager is contacting us with information. We are not able to get through any of the helpline numbers,” Rupesh told the Times of India.
However, by what could be a divine intervention, the family saw the iconic photo where Nidhi, although appearing to be shocked, was indeed alive and safe. “We were searching through the Internet to try and get details of the blasts when we saw the pics,” Nilesh Chaphekar, Nidhi’s brother-in-law, was quoted as saying by USA Today, citing a report from The Associated Press. “The first reaction was ‘she’s alive. By God’s grace she is alive,” Nilesh said.
The person who took the photo, which had gone viral hours after it went online, was identified as 36 years old Belgian photojournalist Ketevan Kardava, from the Georgian Public Broadcaster. Kardava, who is now in a stable condition, said she felt bad as she couldn’t help those people she captured in her photos. As a photojournalist, the only thing that she could do was to let the world know how terrible that time was.
Speaking with TIME, Kardava said she wanted to run for safety during the bombing. In fact, her first instinct was to check if she still has her legs. But she did what she had to do: “As a journalist, it was my duty to take these photos and show the world what was going on. I knew I was the only one at this spot.”
The story behind the iconic Brussels attack victim photo https://t.co/c0qTH7H8QO
— Regi Varghese (@reggiephoto) March 23, 2016