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64 flights in 12 countries: Government to repatriate 14,800 Indians from Thursday

KOCHI: The Union government has chalked out a detailed plan to evacuate the Non-Resident Indians stranded in various countries due to suspension of flights in view of the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to sources, the evacuation will start on Thursday with two flights from the UAE transporting 409 passengers to Kerala.

Meanwhile, the Indian Navy on Monday night deployed three vessels for the evacuation operation.

While two vessels – amphibious transport dock INS Jalaswa and warfare vessel INS Magar set sails for the Maldives, another vessel INS Shardul attached to Southern Naval Command set sails for Dubai.

“The Navy has deployed three vessels – two to the Maldives and one to Dubai on Monday night. INS Shardul is expected to dock at Dubai on Thursday and the details of evacuation will be decided by the consulate. It will take two days for the vessel to reach Kochi from Dubai. Details of the evacuation plan and deployment of more ships are expected to be announced by today afternoon,” Navy spokesperson told TNIE.

Meanwhile, the Ministry for Civil Aviation has unveiled a detailed schedule for the evacuation of NRIs from various countries.

As per schedule 64 flights will be operated aiming to bring 15000 Indians from May 7 to May 14.

The first flight carrying 209 passengers from Abu Dhabi in the UAE will touch down at Cochin International Airport on May 7.

Another flight will transport 200 passengers from Dubai to Kozhikode in Kerala on the same day.

Flights will be operated from the UAE, USA, UK, Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Kuwait and other countries to various Indian cities facilitating smooth evacuation, said sources.

India has been under a lockdown since March 25 to curb the spread of the coronavirus and it will continue till May 17.

All commercial passenger flights have been suspended for this period.

Therefore, the Ministry of Home Affairs announced on Monday it will facilitate the return of asymptomatic Indian nationals stranded abroad from May 7 onwards, in a phased manner, through aircraft and naval ships on a payment basis.

Between May 7 and 13, India is likely to conduct 10 flights to the UAE, seven flights each to the US and the UK, five to Saudi Arabia, five to Singapore and two flights to Qatar, the officials told PTI.

It is also likely to conduct seven flights each to Malaysia and Bangladesh, five each to Kuwait and Philippines, two each to Oman and Bahrain, the officials noted.

Out of the 64 repatriation flights, 15 would be from Kerala, 11 each would be from Delhi and Tamil Nadu, seven each would be from Maharashtra and Telangana, and remaining flights would be from five other states, the officials said.

“Approximately 14,800 Indian nationals are likely to return to the country through these 64 flights during the seven-day period. The government will run more repatriation flights after May 13,” one of the officials said.

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