NEW DELHI, March 1 – Almost 20 per cent of an estimated 18,000 Indians in Libya have been evacuated even as the government received landing clearance for three special flights daily from India to Tripoli up to March 12, extending the March 7 time period, reports PTI.
“Arrangements have since been finalized with Libya to receive three special flights daily from India at Tripoli over the next ten days. In addition, we are exploring possibilities of establishing air bridges with Sirte and Sebha in Libya. This should appreciably speed up the process of evacuating our nationals from Libya,” the Ministry of External Affairs said here today.
It said the ship Scotia Prince, which had docked at Benghazi yesterday, is setting sail for Alexandria, Egypt, around noon (local time), with an estimated 1,188 Indian nationals on board. Twenty-one more Indian nationals crossed over to Salloum (Egypt) yesterday by road and have been moved to Cairo and they will leave for Mumbai by Gulf Air, along with 85 other Indian nationals who had in the same way reached Cairo, it said.
“Almost twenty per cent of our 18,000 people have been evacuated out of Libya,” Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao tweeted. “Have recd (recieved) clearance for 3 - three- of our flights per day to Tripoli from tomorrow till 12th March,” she said on Twitter yesterday.
Reacting to the criticism that India was not as swift as China in evacuating its citizens, Rao said “we are not in competition with China here. We’re focused on the task of bringing back our people safe and sound. Pl (please) let’s not devalue this.”
She also said “we have evacuated over 3,000 out of Libya by now. Some have returned home, others on their way.”