Mumbai/New Delhi, Feb 26 (PTI) India today beganevacuating its nationals stranded in troubled Libya with thefirst batch being airlifted by a 280-seater Air India planefrom Tripoli.
"The flight carrying Indian nationals from Libya tookoff at 4.10 PM (Indian Time). It is expected to land at NewDelhi''s IGI Airport around 11.40 PM tonight," an Air Indiaofficial told PTI here.
The number of passengers being carried by the AirbusA-330 was not available immediately.
India had also sent a Boeing 747 with a capacity of360 passengers along with the Airbus 330 to Tripoli to bringback the Indians, whose number is estimated to be 18,000.
Besides, two Naval ships -- INS Jalashwa and INSMysore -- set sail from Mumbai this morning for Libya.
The sailing time is about twelve days to that country.
Another passenger ship with a capacity of 1600,presently in the Mediterranean, is being chartered today andwill be pressed into service for assisting the departure ofour nationals out of Libya, an External Affairs Ministrystatement said.
Scotia Prince, another chartered ship, is scheduled todepart for Benghazi (Libya) from Port Said (Egypt) today at2000 hrs and is likely to arrive at its destination by theafternoon of February 28.
The ship has a capacity of 1200 passengers.
The Ministry said it has positioned additionalpersonnel at the Indian Embassy in Tripoli to help in theprocess.
"Our Mission has worked tirelessly to get this flightorganised," Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said on themicroblogging site Twitter.
The government is concerned about the well-being ofIndians in view of the deteriorating situation in the countryfollowing a popular uprising.
Both the ships -- INS Jalashwa and INS Mysore -- havebeen specially equipped for the task with full medicalfacilities such as operation theatre, doctors and paramedics.
The ships are also carrying helicopters and a contingent ofmarine Special Forces personnel.
The ships will evacuate Indian nationals from Libya toeither Malta or Egypt, from where they will be transferred byair to India.
In July 2006, the Indian Navy had similarly evacuatedover 2500 Indians, PIOs and some foreign nationals fromLebanon following the war between Israel and the Hezbollah.
Induction of INS Jalashwa since then has significantlyenhanced the capability of the Indian Navy to undertake suchhumanitarian missions.
After receiving nod from the Government, Air India hadyesterday announced that it would operate two flights, oneeach from New Delhi and Mumbai, till March 10 to evacuateIndian nationals caught up in the protests against the MuammarGaddafi regime.