In what will come across as a rather startling development, an Indian couple reportedly chartered a plane and held a mid-air wedding with more than 160 guests in an effort to escape coronavirus restrictions.
Video footage posted on social media appeared to show the couple and their guests packed into the hired jet according to a report by Yahoo News.
The state of Tamil Nadu, where the flight was said to have originated, recently imposed tougher restrictions, limiting weddings to 50 guests.
India’s aviation authority has launched an investigation, reports said.
Rakesh-Dakshina from Madurai, who rented a plane for two hours and got married in the wedding sky. Family members who flew from Madurai to Bangalore after getting married by SpiceJet flight from Bangalore to Madurai. #COVID19India #lockdown @TV9Telugu #weddingrestrictions pic.twitter.com/9nDyn3MM4n— DONTHU RAMESH (@DonthuRamesh) May 23, 2021
An official from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) told the Times of India that the SpiceJet staff aboard the flight had been taken off duty.
A SpiceJet spokesperson told the Indian Express that the Boeing 737 was booked from Madurai to Bangalore by a travel agent for a trip after a wedding.
The spokesperson said the client was “clearly briefed on Covid guidelines to be followed and denied permission for any activity to be performed onboard”.
India is suffering a devastating second wave of coronavirus that has killed at least 300,000 people, according to official figures. Experts estimate that the real death toll is far higher.
Hospitals and crematoriums in the country have been overwhelmed in recent weeks, leading to severe oxygen shortages and bodies being burned around the clock.
Many families unable to afford the costs of cremation have illegally buried their loved ones on the banks of the river Ganges or pushed their bodies into the river’s waters, raising fears that the death toll is being significantly under-counted.
Recent schemes, like health insurance and subsidised medicines for the poor, are not helping because very little has been done in decades to increase the number of medical staff or hospitals.