New Delhi, March 9 (IANS) India expects to wrap up the safe evacuation of its citizens in strife-torn Libya as another batch of 2,400 Indians stranded in the north African country would be home by Thursday.
Nearly 1,000 citizens were flown back Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning from Libyan capital Tripoli on three Air India special flights, according to a statement from the ministry of external affairs.
As scheduled, some 14,000 Indians have been evacuated from Libya since ‘Operation Safe Homecoming’ was launched nearly two weeks ago, the ministry said.
Around 18,000 Indians were based in Libya when a violent uprising against President Muammar Gaddafi’s rule began in mid-February. Not all of them wanted to return home.
“The ministry is confident that by tomorrow (Thursday) almost all Indian nationals desirous of leaving Libya will be back home,” the statement said.
Four Air India airplanes were on their way to Libya to ferry back 1,000 persons from Tripoli and 400 from Sebha Wednesday evening. That would leave behind the last batch of some 550 in Tripoli and 450 in Sebha, who will be evacuated Thursday.
“Over the next twenty four hours (from Wednesday evening), some 2,400 persons will come home in eight special flights, from Libya and Egypt.”
The ministry said that chartered passenger ship MV Scotia Prince arrived in Alexandria Tuesday evening with 972 passengers on board.
The Indian Air Forces’ IAF IL-76 (Gajraj) took off from Alexandria Wednesday morning Libya time for New Delhi, with the first batch of 181 Indians that was expected to land late in the evening hours.
Three additional special Egypt Air flights are ferrying the remaining passengers to Mumbai, over Wednesday evening and early Thursday.
Naval vessels INS Jalashwa and INS Mysore have been kept in the Mediterranean, just off the Libyan coast but have not been pressed into service, given the successful air-bridge put in place between Libya and India since Feb 26, the statement said.