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Man Trapped in NAIA For Over 100 Days is Finally Headed Home

The tourist from Estonia lived on airport food and the kindness of strangers.
IMAGE Facebook/Roman Trofimov
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A man who had been trapped inside the Ninoy Aquino International Airport for over 100 days because of the coronavirus pandemic is finally on his way home. 

Roman Trofimov, a tourist from the Eastern European country of Estonia, posted pictures of himself on a plane that was scheduled to take him out of Manila on Tuesday, July 7. Trofimov had earlier posted photos on his Facebook account that he had been trapped at NAIA since March 2020.

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Trofimov flew in from Bangkok and landed in March 20. He had been scheduled to head on to Cebu for a holiday but was barred from entering the country because visas-upon-arrival were no longer being issued due to travel restrictions brought about by COVID-19. His onward flight to Cebu was also canceled.

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Trofimov said airport officials also confiscated his passport and was told he could only have it back when he was flying back to Estonia.

There are currently no direct flights between Manila and Tallinn, or any other cities in Estonia.

Trofimov was then told he would have to wait until the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Metro Manila was lifted by the government so he could travel outside the country again.

In Facebook posts, Trofimov said he tried asking help from the Estonian consulate in Manila, but was told by officials they could not organize a reptariation flight for him.

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Like Tom Hanks' character in the movie The Terminal, Trofimov had no choice but to wait out the days at NAIA’s Terminal 1. He said he subsisted on food and snacks donated by airline staff and slept in an airport departures hotel room.

He also described himself as disabled and pleaded for help in his posts, saying his health had been deteriorating while inside the airport.

“My health is getting worse because of malnutrition, lack of sun, and fresh air,” he said in one post. “I have no other choice, but to go public. Please share with news agencies.”

But, on Tuesday, Trofimov finally shared the good news that he was flying back home and that he should be landing in Tallinn on July 8.

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“Thank you to everyone who spread information online, gave me advice and just supported me with a kind word,” he posted on Facebook in his native Estonian. “With help of god and thanks to all people who supported me in this difficult time, I am going home now!!!”

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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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