New Delhi: The Chinese government has not yet cleared the relief-supplies laden Indian flight bound to coronavirus-hit Wuhan. Apart from relief materials the plane that India wanted to send would also bring back Indian students from the city, which has been the epicentre of the outbreak.
Though the Chinese side continues to maintain there is no delay (even on Friday, February 21), but inexplicably the clearance has not been given. The flight was purportedly going to fly to the Chinese city on February 21.
Sources told WION, India is ready to send relief package but "some reluctance by the Chinese side to give clearance" which authorities in New Delhi are "unable to figure out".
Adding, there is "unexplainable silence" on the part of the Chinese government as to why the clearance has not been given.
The Indian Air Force's C17 is ready with relief supplies and will bring back over 100 nationals left in the Chinese city. The flight is expected to bring back foreign nationals as well.
The sources have questioned the "deliberate delay" and wondered the reason for the roadblock in the evacuation of Indian nationals while other countries are evacuating their citizens.
"There are relief and evacuation flights from other countries which are still going on, including by France. Why is the Chinese government delaying clearance for the relief flight? Are they not interested in Indian aid provided as our token of support? Why are they creating a roadblock in evacuating our nationals from Wuhan and putting them under hardship and mental agony?" the sources questioned.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his letter to the Chinese President earlier this month while expressing solidarity with China had indicted that New Delhi is ready for any assistance to the country to deal with the coronavirus epidemic.
So far two Air India flights on January 31 and February 1 brought back more than 640 Indians and 7 Maldivian citizens.
There are still some Indian nationals in Wuhan who will have to continue their long wait for evacuation from the Chinese city. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday said that an unknown number of Indians remain in the area and their number is being ascertained.
The delay is causing them and their family members in India tremendous mental anguish.
Meanwhile, the death toll in China's novel coronavirus has climbed to 2,345 with 109 more deaths being reported, while the confirmed cases rose to 76,288.
A team of WHO experts are currently in the country to investigate the COVID-19 outbreak and are expected to visit the worst-affected Wuhan city on Saturday, Chinese health officials said.