‘Ships to be sent to evacuate Indians from Libya’

The government has decided not to charge money for evacuation from Indians stranded in Libya.

Updated: Feb 25, 2011, 00:10 AM IST

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.