New Delhi, Feb 26 (IANS) India has begun evacuating its citizens early Saturday from violence-stricken Libya by sending two Air India planes to the north African country’s capital Tripoli.
“Two planes, one from Mumbai and one from Delhi, left for Tripoli at around 1:30 a.m., reached Tripoli by afternoon and passengers have begun boarding,” a senior Air India official told IANS.
The special flights, two in a day, will bring back Indians stranded in Libya, where a revolt against the Muammar Gaddafi government has turned violent, so far claiming over 1,000 lives.
According to the Air India official, both the planes were expected to bring back around 700 passengers.
“We have sent one boeing 747 Jumbo and another Air-Bus A330 for the evacuation,” the official added.
Describing the situation in Libya as “very grave”, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna had Friday said India was closely watching the developments in the region hit by unrest and advocated democracy in the fast-changing scenario.
Denying that the government had been slow in responding to the situation, the minister had said that two Indian aircraft will be reaching Tripoli soon.
The minister had also denied allegations that the government was charging passengers for the evacuation and cautioned people against those trying to exploit the situation.
The government has also chartered a 1,200 seater passenger ferry, which is on its way to Benghazi.
There are at least 18,000 Indians in Libya, including an estimated 3,000 in Benghazi, where the airport has been rendered unusable due to the fighting.