First batch of Indians from Libya return

New Delhi, Feb 26 (PTI) Launching the evacuation ofIndians from trouble-torn Libya, an Air India flight carryingthe first batch of 291 people from Tripoli landed here latetonight even as 67 Indians crossed over to Egypt by road andwere taken to Cairo on their way back home.

The Air India Boeing carrying the 291 people toucheddown at the Indira Gandhi International Airport shortly beforemidnight after a nearly 8-hour flight from the Libyan capital.

The plane landed at the dysfunctional T2 Internationaltermainal where special arrangements were made for immigrationand customs clearances of the passengers.

Minister of State for External Affairs E Aahmed andForeign Secretary Nirupama Rao received the passengers whowere helped by Resident Commissioners of 12 states, includingKerala, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and officials of ExternalAffairs and Overseas Indian Affairs Ministries at the terminalwhich was made functional in just two days.

Special railway and air ticket counters were set up atthe terminal to help the returnees book their onward journey.

The Boeing flight carrying the Indian nationals fromLibya took off at 4.10 PM (Indian Time).

An Air India Airbus 330 with a capacity of 300 alsoleft the Libyan capital at 8.15 PM (Indian time) for New Delhiwhere it is expected to reach Delhi at around 3AM on Sunday.

The total number of Indians in Libya is estimated to be18,000.

As the first plane carrying the Indians left Tripoli, agroup of 67 Indians, including 11 children and 2 infants,crossed over from Tabrouk, Libya, to Salloum, Egypt, by roadwhere they were received by Indian Embassy officials whofacilitated their immigration into Egypt.

Emergency travel documents were issued to 11 Indians whoreached Salloum by road without passports.

The 67 people were taken by two buses to the Egyptiancapital where the Embassy has made arrangements for theiraccommodation and food.

All of them have been booked by the Embassy by a GulfAir flight which will reach Mumbai at 0505 hours Indian timeon Monday, an External Affairs Ministry statement said inDelhi late tonight.

Another group of 80 Indian nationals from Derna/Baidaarea of Libya are expected to cross over to Egypt on Monday.

Some other Indians in Libya are also trying to crossinto Tunisia by land route and arrangements are being made bythe Indian Embassy in Tunisia for their onward road journey toTunis before being airlifted back to India.

Two Naval ships INS Jalashwa and INS Mysore set sailfrom Mumbai this morning for Libya. The journey time is abouttwelve days to that country.

Another passenger ship with a capacity of 1600, nowin the Mediterranean, is being chartered today and will bepressed into service for assisting the departure ofour nationals out of Libya, an External Affairs Ministrystatement said.

Scotia Prince, another chartered ship, is already onits way to Libya) and will transport the Indians to a saferdestination from where they will be airlifted, ShippingMinister G K Vasan said in Chennai.

The ship has a capacity of 1200 passengers.

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