|Foreign secretary Nirupama Rao|
NEW DELHI. With two more special Air India flights — AI 800 ( Airbus 330) and AI 171 ( Boeing 744) — bringing back 600 more Indians from Tripoli on Monday night, the government said it is hoping to evacuate close to 6,000 of those stranded in strife-torn Libya by Tuesday. Scotia Prince, the first passenger ferry hired to evacuate Indians, also reached Benghazi on Monday.
Foreign secretary Nirupama Rao said, clearances have been sought from Libyan authorities to land flights even in the interiors of the country. "Our ambassador has sought clearance from the Libyan government for evacuation flights to land at Sehba, which is in the interior of the country where there are at least 1,000 Indians stranded," said Rao. She said authorities have to rely only on evacuation by aircraft in Libya as the country does not have a rail network and travel by road is not considered to be safe.
Rao said India has got permission for operating four flights from Tripoli as the Libyan authorities were granting clearance for air evacuation in a staggered manner. "We have clearances for four flights. We have no problems. It is a question of getting clearance which they are giving in stages. You do not have to look at it as a problem," she said in reply to a question.
Sixty-eight more Indians, who had crossed over to Salloum in Egypt, reached Mumbai by another flight in the morning on Monday. Another 82 Indians crossed over to Salloum late on Sunday evening. They were taken to Cairo and are likely to leave by Gulf Air flight (GF-056) via Bahrain on Tuesday.
"The land route to Ras Jedir ( Tunisia) is being put to good use by our nationals. According to latest information, a total of 378 individuals have already crossed over from Libya. The Indian embassy officials received them and assisted with their onward movement to and stay at Djerba (Tunisia)," said the foreign ministry in a statement. A special Air India flight is being arranged to fly them back to India.
Another 100 people are likely to similarly cross over today. La Superba, another passenger ship currently stationed in Sicily, is expected to depart for Benghazi soon. Up to 3,000 Indian nationals, including 400 who have travelled across from Al Kufrah by road, will be evacuated by Scotia Prince and La Superba.