New Delhi: Launching a major evacuation drive, India has brought back over 530 of its nationals from strife-torn Libya by two special Air India planes, even as 88 others crossed over by road to Tunisia from the North African nation facing large-scale protests against the Muammar Gaddafi regime.
While the first flight evacuated 291 Indians from Libya and brought them back late on Saturday, another Air India plane carrying over 235 people landed at the Terminal 2 of the Indira Gandhi International Airport here in the wee hours.
The two flights had left Libya on Saturday after the authorities there allowed landing of two flights from India per day till 10 March.
Minister of state for External Affairs E Ahamed and foreign secretary Nirupama Rao received on Saturday night the first batch of passengers who were helped by resident commissioners of 10 states, including Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and officials of External Affairs and Overseas Indian Affairs Ministries.
Apart from these, 15 corporate houses, which have their units in Libya, have been asked to help the arriving Indian nationals, the officials said, adding adequate number of buses and taxis have been made available.
“They are all in good health and cheer. The passengers included a large number of women and children,” an official statement from the MEA said on Sunday.
The total number of Indians in Libya is estimated to be around 18,000.
Meanwhile, 88 Indians have crossed over by road from Libya to Ras Jedir in Tunisia and were received by officials of Embassy of India in Tunis, who have set up a camp there.
“All 88, who work for Punj Lloyd, have since been housed in ‘Best Hotel´ in Djerba (Tunisia), from where they are likely to be flown back to India soon. Another 170 persons are likely to reach Ras Jedir on Sunday,” the statement said.
With fear still writ large on their faces, the Indians, many of whom had to go without food for several days since the outbreak of the revolt against the Gadaffi regime a fortnight back, gave an account of the tales of fear, horror and looting on their arrival in the national capital.