India on Friday evacuated 44 citizens who were stuck in the Iranian city of Qom after flights were cancelled due to coronavirus outbreak in Iran. The evacuation came a day after External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar assured the parliament that limited number of commercial flights would be allowed to fly back the Indians who were stranded in Qom, Tehran and other Iranian cities.
“Second batch of 44 Indian pilgrims has arrived today from Iran. Our efforts to bring back the others continue,” said Mr Jaishankar announcing the arrival of the latest batch of evacuees who landed in Mumbai in an Iran Air flight.
The evacuated people have been shifted to Indian Navy quarantine facility set up at Ghatkopar in Mumbai. The facility can accommodate 120 people, Navy officials said.
The Navy has also set up isolation facilities at its premier hospital INHS Asvini in Mumbai to treat COVID-19 cases, the Navy said.
The first batch consisting of 58 nationals were brought back in a C17 military transport aircrft on Tuesday. The Ministry of External Affairs informed on Wednesday that the pilgrims and students will be tested before being airlifted.
A few thousand citizens of both countries are at present stranded in Iran and India as India cancelled flights in February in view of the spike in caronavirus cases in major Iranian cities. But officials say they revised the decision after it became clear that the large number stranded citizens had to be evacuated.
Indians stuck in Iran have been pleading over social media for prompt evacuation as many pilgrims and students were left with little resources. On Thursday, a female pilgrim from Qom sent a social media message urging the Government of India to evacuate her. In a message on Twitter, Syeeda Syed said she is alone in Qom, saying “Kindly help me to evacuate.”