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Odishatv Bureau
New Delhi: India on Friday said it will evacuate all its citizens desirous of leaving strife-torn Libya by March 10.

By tonight, over 9,200 of the 16,000 Indian nationals stranded there would have been evacuated from Libya, Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur said in a statement in the Rajya Sabha.

"We expect to complete the exercise of evacuating all those desirous of leaving Libya by March 10," she said adding around 10 per cent of the Indian citizens may have decided to stay back in the North African country.

In response to members` concerns, the Minister said there is "no cut-off date" for completion of evacuation.

To a member`s remark that China and Phillippines had completed their evacuation exercise much before India could do so, she said China had not issued any official figure and Phillipines was yet to complete its evacuation process.

To a query, she said the Government was not charging any fare from them.

"Indian nationals are not required to pay any money for the repatriation... the cost towards their evacuation is being met by the Government," Kaur said.

She said External Affairs Minister S M Krishna has already talked to his Libyan counterpart on March 2 and "was assured of all possible assistance for the purpose."

The Minister said a passenger ship Scotia Prince will reach Benghazi tomorrow morning after dropping the first batch of 1,188 Indian nationals to Alexandria in Egypt last night.

She said passengers dropped by it have already reached Delhi and Mumbai in Air India Special Flights.

Kaur said another passenger ship Red Star One was on its way to Misurata and Sirte to take Indian nationals to Malta from where they would be brought back in special flights from Valletta.

The Minister said an air bridge is being established between Sehba and India from tonight and 2,000 Indians would be evacuated from there in next five days.

She said 750 Indian nationals have reached Benghazi from Kufra in Southern Libya by land route and would be picked up by a passenger vessel reaching there.

Kaur said a large number of Indian nationals have crossed the Libyan border into Tunisia and Egypt and are being assisted by the Indian Embassy officials there.

Similar help was being provided to Indian citizens who have managed to reach other countries like Malta and Greece.

On the issue of protecting properties of Indians in Libya, Kaur said it was the duty of the host country and India will take up the matter with the government which comes to power there.

Kaur said an IL-76 aircraft has been positioned in Cairo to undertake possible evacuation operations from Libya and a second aircraft is also being kept in readiness.

Two Navy warships - INS Jalashwa and INS Mysore - are also expected to be there by March 8 to assist in evacuation of any Indian who might still be in the coastal towns of Libya.

Kaur said only two Indians have lost their lives in accidents in Libya.

The Minister said additional staff has been deployed in Libya and other nearby countries to help in the evacuation operations carried out by the External Affairs Ministry.

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