'Evacuation from Libya to continue till everyone brought back'

'Evacuation from Libya to continue till everyone brought back'

"As of this evening, the number of Indians remaining to be evacuated from Tripoli would drop to about 1,700, including 400 expected to reach there by road today, from Sirte," a MEA release said.

"MV Red Star One, which was at Sirte, was expected to return on Thursday to Malta with 170 of our nationals, who would be flown home on special flights thereafter," it said adding, "With this, all Indians desirous of leaving Sirte would have been moved out."

MV Scotia Prince, with 972 people from Benghazi on board, was likely to reach Alexandria by late evening and all passengers will be flown back to India on three Egypt Air and one IL 76 flights, tomorrow. The vessel's arrival to Alexandria has been delayed by a day due to some engine trouble.

Meanwhile, an Air India flight AI-160 (Airbus 330), on its way to New Delhi from Tripoli with 261 passengers, had to make an unscheduled landing at Malta Airport on March 6 and Air India had to sent a relief aircraft from New Delhi yesterday, which brought everyone back to New Delhi, in the wee hours today.

"Some 36 evacuation sorties have already been undertaken by special flights arranged by the ministry so far. The operation would continue, till each and every one of our citizens, desirous of returning, is brought back safely," the MEA said.

To speed up evacuation of Indians stranded in Libya, the Navy today said that its two warships will now directly sail to Tripoli on March 9 instead of going to Alexandria in Egypt as planned earlier.

"Earlier the plan was to dock these ships at Alexandria in Egypt, but now INS Jalashwa and INS Mysore would sail directly to Tripoli. It would speed up the evacuation process by saving time and ensuring earlier evacuation," a naval spokesperson said here.

The troop carrier INS Jalashwa and Delhi-class destroyer INS Mysore were dispatched to Alexandria on February 26, after the agitation against the Muammar Gaddafi regime turned violent.

"Navy had kept INS Aditya- a naval tanker- with the two warships till Suez Canal to ensure top fuel level. This enabled them to avoid stopover at Alexandria and proceed directly to Tripoli," the spokesperson added.

The warships would ferry Indian citizens from Tripoli to Malta and from there they would be brought to India on Air India flights and other private airlines operating as air-bridge.