New Delhi, Feb 25 (IANS) India has readied two warships to evacuate its nationals from troubled Libya with the defence ministry Friday clearing a request for this from the external affairs ministry.
The warships – the troop carrier INS Jalashwa and a Delhi-class destroyer – are awaiting the go-ahead from the external affairs ministry to sail to Libya to carry out the evacuation, an Indian Navy officer told IANS here.
This will supplement the efforts of flag carrier Air India, which has been permitted to operate two flights a day over the next week to Libya, where some 18,000 Indians are stranded due to the protests against the decades rule of the country’s strongman, Muammar Gaddafi.
The two ships are expected to leave for Libya on Saturday and they could take about eight days to reach the nearest port for the evacuation process, the officer added.
The external affairs ministry’s request to the defence ministry for the warships was sent on Wednesday.
“The defence ministry clearance for sending the warships has come. It explicitly states that the ships will sail to pick up the Indians from Libya as and when required by the external affairs ministry. We are waiting for their go ahead,” the officer added.
This is not the first time the Indian Navy has been involved in an operation of this scale.
During the Israel-Lebanon conflict in 2006 Indian Navy warships evacuated 2,280 people, including 700 Indians.
The mechanics of the current evacuation are being fine-tuned, the Indian Navy officer said.