Special flight to bring back Indians from Egypt

New Delhi: Government has made arrangements for a special Air India flight to carry 300 Indians — mainly women and children — from Cairo, which has been rocked by violent protests for the past few days, to India.

The arrangement for the special flight was made at the request of the Indian community in Egypt in view of the prevailing situation there, the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement here.

The arrangements are being coordinated by Indian Ambassador R Swaminathan, officials said.

They said the Embassy officials are in touch with the Ministry of External Affairs here, which is closely monitoring the situation.

At least 100 people have been killed and hundreds injured in the clashes. Around 1,000 people have been arrested across the country since the protests broke out five days ago against the Hosni Mubarak government.

The officials said most of the Indians are PIOs who have settled in Egypt.

Indian Embassy has set-up a round-the-clock control room.

The MEA had yesterday issued a travel advisory asking Indians to avoid non-essential travel to that country.

"The Embassy of India in Cairo is in touch with members of the Indian community who are reported to be safe. There are about 3600 People of Indian Origin (PIO) in Egypt, of which some 2200 are in Cairo.

"In view of the prevailing situation in Egypt, Indian nationals are advised to avoid non-essential travel to Egypt for the present…," the advisory had said.

Meanwhile, Air India sources said a Boeing-747 aircraft is standing by to operate on the Mumbai-Cairo-Mumbai sector to bring back stranded Indian passengers.

It will be operated depending on the time when the curfew will be lifted in Cairo, the sources said.

The special Boeing 747-800 Jumbo Air India aircraft left Mumbai for Cairo today and will return by 6 am tomorrow with the passengers, sources said.

The Ministry of External Affairs also issued a statement, saying it was closely watching "with concern" the developments in Egypt.

"We are closely following with concern, the developments in Egypt. India has traditionally enjoyed close and friendly relations. We hope for an early and peaceful resolution of the situation without further violence and loss of lives," the ministry said.