Maid 'died of stress' after five nights stuck in Oman airport

Authorities in Delhi are to investigate the death of an Indian domestic servant who died in transit from the Middle East after she lost her passport and was forced to spend five nights sleeping in an airport.

Officials from India’s foreign ministry are to fly to Muscat, Oman, amid allegations that the local Indian embassy did nothing to help the woman after she became stranded. Reports say doctors believe Beebi Lumada, 40, who may have been suffering from a mental illness, died from a heart-attack triggered by stress.

A war of words has broken out since the death of Ms Lumada a week ago. While India has pointed the finger of blame at the Omani airport authorities and the airline which refused to allow the woman to board the flight to India, police in Muscat have said Indian officials did nothing to help the woman replace her lost documents.

“The foreign minister has said that a senior official will go to Muscat. After the high-ranking official returns, we will know more,” a foreign ministry spokesman said last night. “At the moment, all there is are media reports.”

Ms Lumada was apparently making her way home to southern India from Muscat where she had been working as a servant, her employment reportedly coming to an end because of emotional difficulties she had been facing. Her visa for Oman had been cancelled and she boarded a flight from Muscat for Doha in Qatar where she was due to catch a connecting flight to Chennai.

However, while on the flight to Doha she lost her passport. Officials with Qatar airways said that without her passport she was unable to be admitted for the flight on to Chennai and so, according to airline policy, was flown back to Muscat. However, when she arrived at Muscat without her passport and with her visa cancelled she was not permitted to reenter the country.

Ms Lumada reportedly spent the next five nights in the airport’s transit area, with Qatar Airways providing her with food and bedding. However, last Friday, Ms Lumada suffered what was described as a seizure and died after medics rushed her to the city’s Ibn Sina hospital.

India has accused both Qatar Airways and the authorities at Muscat Airport of negligence. The minister for overseas Indian affairs, Vayalar Ravi, told Indian media: “The airport and airline authorities should have been more responsible. Valid papers are necessary but not more than a person’s life.”

But police at Muscat airport said the Indian Embassy failed to help Ms Lumada by failing to quickly provide her with a temporary passport. “We informed the Indian Embassy on Monday to issue her a temporary passport to travel back to India. We reminded them the next day and the day after, but each time they said they were doing it but did not do it,” an unidentified officer told The National newspaper.

“If they acted fast enough, she would have probably been back home alive since last week.”

There is no precise data on the total number of workers from South Asia employed in Gulf countries millions of labourers from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh travel there for years on end. Such workers have virtually no rights and employment conditions are often appalling.

Human rights campaigners have demanded an investigation into the death of Ms Lumada, whose body has been returned to India. “The Omani authorities must launch an investigation into her death,” said Amnesty International. “[We are] concerned that despite recent amendments to the 2003 labour law establishing legal rights to workers, domestic workers, many of whom were foreign migrants and women, are not covered by the law and lack adequate legal protection.”

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent