India urging Libya to open Tripoli airport for its flights

Last Updated: Thu, Feb 24, 2011 16:10 hrs

India has urged the Libyan authorities to open up Tripoli airport for its flights so that air evacuation could take place.

The developments came as 'Scotia Prince', the ferry ship hired by India to evacuate stranded Indians in Libya began sailing towards restive Benghazi.

Speaking to ANI, Secretary (East) Lata Reddy said: " We are urging Libyan authorities to make arrangements for our flights to land in Tripoli airport, we have flights on standby here and they can leave once these arrangements are confirmed."

"Very large number of foreign nationals are trying to leave Tripoli at the moment, clearances are taking time, our Ambassador is personally seeking these clearances at the earliest possible time and we hope to began air operation at that time," she added.

According to the Ministry of External Affairs, evacuation is being arranged by sea and air.

'Scotia Prince' a chattered passenger ferry with capacity to seat 1200 persons, has reached Egypt and is to sail for Benghazi to evacuate stranded Indian nationals from Libya.

Ministry of External Affairs personnel and a medical team will be on board to assist the evacuees.

The ship is expected to reach Benghazi by February 27 and will bring back the persons to Alexandria by March.

Special Air India flights will be stationed there to bring them back to India.

Meanwhile, India is also considering other points for evacuation like Malta and

Tunisia, Reddy told ANI: "If need be we are also considering using other points like Malta, we can evacuate by land provided arrangements can be put in place, on the Tunisian side, arrangements are already in place on the Egyptian side for those who are reaching by land, our Ambassador in Egypt is already in touch with them."

Indian companies, working in Libya for decades have also offered to work with the Indian Embassy in Tripoli to facilitate the evacuation. There are an estimated 18000 Indians living in Libya.

Safety of Indians in Libya has become a big concern for the government. So far, however, there are no reports of violence related deaths of Indians in Libya.

The Ministry of External Affairs has confirmed the death of two Indians, who died due to injuries in road accidents. Most of the deaths in Libya are largely reported from the areas, where anti-government protests are taking place,

Informing about the safety of Indians in Libya, Lata Reddy said: "We don't have a report of general breakdown of law and order or of generalized violence in that sense Indian community, we have a report yesterday of the death of one Indian injured in a road accident along with some Indians trying to leave, but this was a road accident death case we just received confirmation of another died of injuries due to road accident."

"So far except these two cases we have no report of death or serious injuries to Indians so in that sense we are reassured as to general safety of Indian community," she added. (ANI)