Libya crisis: Indian govt firms up evacuation plans

New Delhi: India is keeping a close watch on the situation in Libya, where the death toll in anti- government protests has crossed 300, and is awaiting clearance for landing of its aircraft and for ships to evacuate its nationals.

"Just spoke to our Ambassador (M Manimekalai) in Tripoli. She awaits clearance for landing of our aircraft and for our ships. One ship arriving Egypt today," Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said in a tweet.

She said from Egypt access to eastern coast of Libya will be relatively quick and less difficult.

"Our Ambassador is in touch with our nurses in Benghazi. Regular civilian flights still operating in to and out of Tripoli, I understand," Rao said.

The Indian Ambassador "is also in touch with our Indian community in smaller Libyan cities. She and our Mission are doing their very best," the Foreign Secretary said.

According to reports, over 300 people have been killed so far in the brutal crackdown against protesters demanding an end to Muammar Gadhafi`s 41-year rule in Libya.

India yesterday deplored the use of force by Libyan authorities against anti-government protesters and said it was working on a "mammoth" operation to evacuate about 18,000 Indian nationals from the North African nation.