Indians start arriving from Libya

Indian passengers from Libya arriving at the International Airport in New Delhi on Saturday. Photo: R.V. Moorthy  

Mounting a major multimode exercise to transport its nationals to safety from Libya, India by Saturday evacuated nearly 700 of its 18,000 people stranded in the strife-torn country.

Two Air India special flights from Tripoli were on way to Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport, marking the first phase of evacuation. (A PTI report said 291 Indians arrived at the IGI airport late on Saturday night.)

Contrary to expectations, an Air India spokesman said here, the two planes, which could have carried 680 passengers, were flying with 100-plus seats vacant. Posts on Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao's Twitter indicated that people were exercising caution in making it to the airport.

Another post said Ms. Rao called up her Pakistan counterpart, Salman Bashir, for clearance to allow Air India aircraft to fly over the country. “Response must be prompt and positive,” the post said.

Earlier in the day, 67 Indians, including 11 children and two infants, crossed over from Tabrouk in Libya to Salloum in Egypt by road.

They were received at the border by Embassy officials who also facilitated their immigration into Egypt, the External Affairs Ministry said. Eleven emergency certificates were issued immediately to those who did not have passports.

This group is now on way to Cairo in two buses and will reach Mumbai by a Gulf Air aircraft on Monday. Another group of about 80 people from the Derna/Baida area in Libya is expected to similarly cross over some time on Monday. It will also be extended necessary facilitation, the Ministry said.

Meanwhile, 100 Indian nationals are trying to cross over by land to Tunisia. Arrangements are being made to position Indian Embassy officials on the Tunisian border, to receive and assist them in their onward journey by road to Tunis and then by air to India.

Even as the second special flight was getting ready to take off from Tripoli, a passenger ship Scotia Prince, that can carry 1,200 passengers, set sail from Port Said in Egypt and it will reach Benghazi in Libya by Monday afternoon.

To expedite the safe movement of Indians, India chartered another 1,600-capacity passenger ship on Saturday. It is in the Mediterranean region and will be pressed into service, the Ministry of External Affairs said here.

These passenger ships are in addition to the two Indian Navy warships that left Mumbai en route to Libya. INS Jalashawa and INS Mysore together can carry some 1,500 people. These ships will ferry the Indians to cities either in Malta or Egypt, from where they will be flown home.

The Ministry has posted additional personnel to assist officials at the Indian Embassy in Tripoli who have been working to ensure that Indians are evacuated safely.

PTI reports:

The Ministry of External Affairs and the Delhi International Airport Limited have made arrangements for the passengers arriving at the now closed Terminal 2.

“T2 has been set up by the DIAL within two days and the terminal will remain operational for next two weeks,” a senior MEA official said.

Telephone facilities and railway reservation counters have been set up at the terminal.

Resident Commissioners of 12 States were present to help the people of their States in their onward journey.

Apart from these, 15 corporate houses, which have their units in Libya, have been asked to help those arriving, the officials said, adding adequate number of buses and taxis had been made available.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 6:23:14 AM |

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