New Delhi, March 8 (IANS) India will stick to the March 10 deadline to evacuate all Indians who wish to leave Libya as only about 1,700 of them are left in the violence-torn north African country, an official statement said Tuesday.
As many as 36 special flights have been operated since ‘Operation Safe Homecoming’ was launched nearly two weeks ago, he said.
Around 18,000 Indians were based in Libya before the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi’s rule began in mid-February.
“Three Air India flights would be heading for Tripoli again today (Tuesday) to ferry back an additional 1,000 passengers,” the external affairs ministry said.
“As of this evening (Tuesday), the number of Indians remaining to be evacuated from Tripoli would drop to about 1,700, including 400 expected to reach there by road from Sirte,” according to the ministry.
India began the evacuation operation Feb 26, the biggest after the August 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait that forced thousands of Indians in the country to flee to Amman, the capital of Jordan, from where they were flown home
The ministry said the chartered ship MV Red Star One, which is at Sirte in Libya, is expected to return to Malta with 170 Indians Thursday.
They would be flown home on special flights. With this, all Indians seeking to leave Sirte would have been moved out, the ministry added.
Another ship MV Scotia Prince is expected to reach Alexandria with 972 persons from Benghazi later Tuesday night.
All passengers will be flown back to India on three Egypt Air and one IL-76 flights Wednesday, according to the ministry.
An Air India flight AI-160 on its way to New Delhi from Tripoli with 261 passengers had to make an unscheduled landing at Malta Airport Sunday night.
“Some 36 evacuation sorties have already been undertaken by special flights arranged by the ministry so far. The operation would continue till each and every one of our citizens, desirous of returning, is brought back safely,” the ministry said.