Operation Samudra Setu: Indian Navy arrives at Male port to evacuate nearly 200 Indians

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NEW DELHI: Indian Navy ship INS Magar on Sunday arrived at Male to bring nearly 200 stranded Indian nationals home from Maldives amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Concurrently, INS Jalashwa, the first ship carrying evacuees from Maldives under Operation Samudra Setu, reached Kochi harbour this morning with 698 Indian citizens, the Navy said in a statement.

INS Magar, designed for landing operations, had made all necessary logistic, medical and administrative preparations at her base port Kochi to comfortably accommodate civilians before setting sail towards Maldives.

The ship will evacuate nearly 200 citizens while ensuring all precautions, including social distancing norms, are followed, the Navy stated.

“An entirely separate section of the ship with essential facilities like food and washrooms has been prepared to accommodate the evacuees and a separate mess has been allotted for ladies, infants and senior citizens,” it mentioned.

The evacuees have been divided into groups to avoid crowding at common areas like the dining hall and bathrooms, the Navy noted.

Air India is operating 64 repatriation flights from May 7 to May 14 while the Navy has deployed two ships as India rolled out a massive evacuation plan on Tuesday to bring back thousands of its nationals stranded abroad due to the coronavirus lockdown.

From the Gulf countries to Malaysia and the UK to the US, the multi-agency operation christened Vande Bharat Mission will see the state-owned airline operate the non-scheduled commercial flights till May 14 to ferry around 15,000 Indian nationals from 12 countries.

In this mission, the Navy had launched Operation Samudra Setu (Sea Bridge) under which it dispatched two ships to Male to commence the first phase of the evacuation operation from May 8.

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