France Grounds Nicaragua-Bound Flight Carrying 303 Indians Over Suspected 'Human Trafficking', 2 Arrested

Nicaragua-bound plane had been due to refuel and was carrying 303 Indian nationals who had probably been working in the UAE.

Representational Image

A Nicaragua-bound plane that took off from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) carrying 303 Indian passengers has been grounded in France over suspected "human trafficking”.

The incident took on Friday, while two people have been arrested, AFP reported.

The French national anti-organised crime unit JUNALCO has taken over the investigation. Special investigators are questioning all those aboard and two people are in custody pending further examination, the Paris prosecutor's office said in a statement.

What we know about the incident so far?

The reports quoting prefecture in the northeastern department of Marne said the A340, operated by Romanian company Legend Airlines, "remained grounded on the tarmac at Vatry airport following its landing" on Thursday. The Vatry airport, located 150 kilometers east of Paris, serves mostly budget airlines.

The reports said the plane had been due to refuel and was carrying 303 Indian nationals who had probably been working in the UAE. After landing in France, the passengers were first kept on the aircraft, but then let out and given individual beds in the terminal building. The entire airport was cordoned off by police.

The prosecutor's office said an anonymous tip signalled that the flight was carrying people who could be victims of human trafficking. Passengers were eventually transferred into the main hall of the small Vatry airport, where cots were set up for them to stay overnight on Thursday, the administration for the Marne region told the newspaper.

Investigators from a specialised French organised crime unit, border police and aviation gendarmes are working on the case.

Legend Airlines is yet to comment on the incident. 

Indian Embassy informed about the incident:

Menwhile, the Indian embassy in Paris on Friday said French authorities informed it that a flight with mostly Indian origin people that was going to Nicaragua from Dubai has been detained on a technical halt at a French airport.

The embassy was informed that the flight had 303 people.

"French authorities informed us of a plane w/ 303 people, mostly Indian origin, from Dubai to Nicaragua detained on a technical halt at a French airport," the Indian mission said in a post on 'X'.

"Embassy team has reached & obtained consular access. We are investigating the situation, also ensuring wellbeing of passengers," it said.

No further details including when the flight was detained were not immediately available.