Libya: Airlifting from tomorrow; evacuation by sea from Sunday

New Delhi, Feb 25 (PTI) Two Special Air India flights toTripoli will operate from tomorrow over the next 10 days andtwo Naval warships including amphibious vessel INS Jalashwawill also set sail to bring back thousands of Indian nationalsstranded in strife-torn Libya.

Evacuation through sea will begin from Sunday with oneof the chartered ships,''Scotia Prince'', with a capacity toaccomodate 1,200 persons set to reach Benghazi port in Libya.

An estimated 18,000 Indian nationals live in Libya.

With Libyan government granting landing permission fortwo Air India planes daily from tomorrow till March 7, oneaircraft each from Delhi and Mumbai will be deployed to ferryIndian nationals from Libya which is witnessing violentanti-government protests that has so far claimed severalhundred lives.

Government is also dispatching tomorrow two navalwarships including INS Jalashwa with a capacity to carry overa 1,000 passengers to evacuate its citizens.

The External Affairs Ministry also made it clear todaythat "NO payment or charge" of any kind is being levied by thegovernment for the evacuation or assisted departure of anyIndian national from Libya.

"Libyan government has given landing clearance for twoAir India planes per day from tomorrow for evacuation ofIndian nationals," External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said,adding, India has also requested the Libyan authorities toextend, if required, the time period for landing clearance.

The two Air India flights --one from Delhi with a 280-290passenger capacity and from Mumbai with about 350 passengercapacity-- will return by late tomorrow night to theirrespective destinations, sources told PTI.

Meanwhile, reacting to reports that some unscrupulouselements are asking for payments/handling charges/facilitationfee etc., for arranging evacuation of Indian nationals,through the Embassy of India in Libya, MEA issued a statementsaying "These activities are completely illegal andindividuals engaged in them should be immediately reported tothe law enforcement authorities." PTI PYK GSN

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