‘Ships to be sent to evacuate Indians from Libya’
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Last Updated: Friday, February 25, 2011, 00:10
New Delhi: India on Thursday chartered ships to evacuate its nationals in strife-torn Libya and they have set sail from Egypt and is also considered despatching three naval warships including its largest amphibious vessel INS Jalashwa.

Given "the sharp and unprecedented deterioration" in the situation in the North African country witnessing anti -government protests for over a week, Government decided to immediately commence evacuation of Indians and has sent a ship from Egypt to Libyan port of Benghazi to ferry the first batch of 1,200 people. A second ship with smaller capacity is also being sent.

People with medical emergency, women and children will be given priority to board the ships.

An estimated 18,000 Indian nationals live in the oil-rich nation where over 300 people have been killed so far in the crackdown against anti-government protesters.

The Government is also expecting landing permission for its aircraft soon and therefore, has kept aircraft on stand by to back up the evacuation by sea.

"Evacuation is being arranged by sea and air.

Government has chartered a passenger ferry with capacity to seat 1,200 persons for this purpose. The ship, "Scotia Prince", is already in Egypt and readying for sail to Benghazi which will be the initial focus of the evacuation operations," the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement here.

The Indian population also included nearly 4,000 staff of some major construction companies with operations in Libya, including DS Construction, Simlex, Unitech and Punj Lloyd.

Representatives of some of these companies met Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao yesterday to discuss the situation.

"....all Indians are safe and all those Indians who are willing to be evacuated will be evacuated safely and without any expenditure incurred by them," External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said.

MEA personnel and medical team will be on board to assist the evacuees, the statement said, adding "SCOTIA PRINCE is expected to reach Benghazi by Sunday and bring back at least 1,200 persons to Alexandria (Egypt) by March 1. They would be flown home from Alexandria thereafter, by special Air India flights, which are being arranged."

"Primary evacuation focus will be on medical emergency cases, women and children," Rao said. The Indian Navy has decided to despatch three naval warships including its largest amphibious vessel INS Jalashwa to evacuate its citizens stranded in Libya.

"We have sent a proposal to the Defence Ministry to send three warships including two destroyers and the INS Jalashwa to Libya to bring back around 18,000 Indians stuck there," Navy sources said here.

"The final decision on sending the warships on the 7,000 miles voyage to Tripoli would be taken at the highest-level by the Defence Ministry in consultation with the External Affairs Ministry (EAM)," they added.


First Published: Friday, February 25, 2011, 00:10

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