Kochi, May 12: With relief writ large on their faces, 16 Keralites, including children, who were stranded in war-torn Libya, reached here this morning.
29 Indians, including five infants in the age group of one and half and two years and a pregnant nurse, have been rescued from Libya, with nine families belonging to Kerala and three to Tamil Nadu.
It was an emotional homecoming for the people who hugged their loved ones amid tears as they emerged from Nedumbassery airport at 10.30 AM.
The flight carrying the 16 persons landed here at 8.30 AM this morning, after which they completed immigration formalities. The relatives of the rescued Indians had been patiently waiting since the early hours and there were cries of relief as they spotted them.
A nurse from Kerala, Sunu Sathyan, and her one-and-half year-old son Pranav had been killed in a rocket attack in the violence hit Zawiya city of Libya on March 25. Following this, other Indian nurses also working in the the hospital had decided to leave the area.
"I was in the same hospital. After the incident we moved to a shelter owned by a Libyan," said a member of the group who identified himself as Abraham. Most nurses claimed that though they had got in touch with the office of External Affairs Minister and Chief Minister Oommen Chandy's office, there was no help.
"There were a lot of promises, but no help", one of them said, adding they had to pay about Rs nine lakh to buy tickets. "Since the past one month, it was a miserable existence for us. There was a problem for food and medicines," another nurse said.
One of the nurses, hailing from Kozhencherry, said she and her three member family were in Libya for the last five years. "We were unable to withdraw money from banks due to the situation there. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy called us to ask about our plight," she told reporters.
Non-Resident Keralite Affairs CEO R S Kannan said the expenses to purchase tickets would be re-imbursed to them. The stranded passengers had reached Tripoli yesterday and NORKA was in touch with the Indian ambassador to Libya, Asar H Khan, who is presently based in Malta, Kannan told PTI.
"As per our request, the ambassador had got in touch with hospital, Libyan bank and Protocol officer in charge of foreign affairs in a bid to get the dues of the stranded Indians released", he said.
The stranded Indians had travelled from Tripoli to Istanbul and then to Dubai to arrive at Kochi this morning, he said. There are totally 11 children, five of them infants in the age group of one and half years and two, Kannan said.
The three families from Tamil Nadu have gone to Chennai from Dubai, he said. Most of them who returned are from Ernakulam, Thirissur and Pathnamthitta districts. A pregnant nurse was among those evacuated.