As the issue figured in the state Assembly, Minister for Non-Resident Keralalites Affairs KC Joseph said government had information that 44 nurses stranded in trouble-torn Tikrit in Iraq were safe.

According to the Indian Embassy in Iraq they could be evacuated only when the road from their hospital to the nearest airport became risk-free as heavy bombing was going on in the area.

The nurses were safe according to a group of officials of International Red Crescent who met them last night, he said.

Stating that the situation in Iraq was serious, he said many places were under the control of ISIL militants.

A 24x7 helpline has been set up under the state NRK agency Norka to provide updated information on the situation.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy had already written to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj seeking urgent steps for the safe evacuation of the Keralites from the violence-hit areas of Iraq.

Out of these stranded nurses, 36 of them were keen to return home immediately, he said.

The state government had received representations from the parents of students seeking immediate intervention to bring their wards from Iraq.

Meanwhile, father of one of the nurses working in Tikrit said his daugther Merina Jose called him this morning and said she was safe but anxious about the future.

"My daughter called me this morning. She said she and others working in the same hospital are safe but are anxious about what will happen to them," PA Jose from Kottayam said.

Jose said he and parents of others were praying for the safe return of their children and expected that the Centre would intervene for their evacuation without delay.


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