IAF ships to start evacuation from Libya next week

New Delhi: Naval warships INS Jalashwa and INS Mysore will start evacuating the Indian nationals stranded in strife-torn Libya next week.

The two warships were despatched to Libya on February 26 and are expected to start their rescue operations from March 8, Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma said here today.

"The two warships will reach Alexandria (Egypt) on March 8. Once the numbers (of Indian citizens) are mustered in Tripoli, our ships can be involved in the evacuation exercise," he told reporters on the sidelines of a naval seminar.

The ships would wait at Alexandria till the evacuation is over and these would be used to ferry the passengers to Malta, he added.

"What has been worked out with the Ministry of External Affairs is that these ships are not meant to carry passengers for long distances. They are basically troop carriers. So, we would move passengers from Tripoli or Benghazi to Malta," Verma said.

From Malta, the evacuation would take place through private airlines, Air India and the two IL-76 aircraft provided by the Indian Air Force.

Asked why the two warships were carrying a complement of Marine Commandos (MARCOS), Verma said it is now the part of Navy`s standard operating procedure for the vessels sailing in the Gulf region.

"This is now our standard routine. Whenever we send our ships in these areas, we have marine commandos on it for the protection of the ships or for the safety of the passenger," he said.