2 more special AI flights from Libya return

(image) New Delhi: A total of 557 Indians returned home in two batches by air from strife-torn Libya in the wee hours today taking to 1,083 the total number of people evacuated so far by the four Air India special flights.

The fourth Air India flight( AI-170) landed at Terminal 2 of Indira Gandhi International Airport(IGIA) here at around 4:30 am, bringing 331 passengers, an airport official said. The plane took off from Tripoli airport at around 8:30 pm IST.

The third special flight with 226 Indians on board arrived in the Capital a little earlier at around 1:30 am from the north African nation, Minister for Civil Aviation Vayalar Ravi said.

Ravi, also the Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, received the passengers of the third special flight, an Airbus 330, at Terminal 2 of the IGI Airport.

The AI-800 was originally a Jeddah-Mumbai flight, but it was converted into a special ferry aircraft and diverted to Tripoli to evacuate Indians who are stranded in Libya, which is rocked by massive anti-government protests that has left around 1,000 persons dead.

Three more planes — two Boeing 747-400 and Airbus 330 — left this morning for Tripoli to airlift Indians who are still there.

Ravi said 1,100 people have been evacuated from Benghazi and ferried by a ship to Alexandria in Egypt.

"Out of 18,000 Indians, 10,000 are stranded in Tripoli," he said.

One of the passengers of the fourth flight Dinesh Kumar Sahni, working in Libya with a construction firm for two years, said "Situation in Libya is not good. The condition in Tripoli during day is normal, but it is not safe to venture out in night."

But for Dinesh Diwedi, who is living in Libya for 27 years and presently working with the country`s National Oil Corporation, "life is normal". He claimed that "no Indian was harmed", but feared "situation may get worse."

The first two special Air India planes had brought back 526 Indians.

While the first flight evacuated 291 Indians from Libya and brought them back here on Saturday night, another Air India plane carrying over 235 people landed in the wee hours of Sunday.

Ravi praised the efforts of Indian embassy officials in Libya for helping Indians in getting out of the country and said his ministries are working in co-ordination with other ministries for evacuating Indians from Libya.

"We are committed to bring back all the Indians stranded in Libya," he added.

With Government intensifying the evacuation drive, nearly a third of 18,000 Indians in Libya would have been evacuated through air and sea by tomorrow.