New Delhi: Over 500 Indian nationals evacuated from trouble-torn Libya reached the capital in two flights specially arranged by Air India, after an anti-government uprising put their lives at risk, officials said on Sunday.

The first flight, Air India Boeing carrying the 291 people touched down at the Indira Gandhi International Airport shortly before Saturday midnight after a nearly 8-hour flight from Tripoli (Libyan capital.)

The second batch of 237 evacuated passengers, who were picked from Libyan capital Tripoli, arrived in an Airbus A330 at 4.10 AM on Sunday.

Another two Air India flights are to leave for Tripoli later in the day to evacuate over 500 more Indians.

Special arrangements

Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahamed and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao were present at the airport to receive the passengers who were helped by Resident Commissioners of 12 states, including Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and officials of External Affairs and Overseas Indian Affairs Ministries at the terminal which was made functional in just two days.

The plane landed at the dysfunctional T2 International terminal where special arrangements were made for immigration and customs clearances of the passengers.

Special railway and air ticket counters were set up at the terminal to help the returnees book their onward journey.

Officials said special arrangements had been made for the returning Indians. Food had been arranged for them, as well as telephone facilities so they could contact their families.

Naval ships to rescue Indians

Meanwhile, three Indian Navy ships have also sailed to Libya to help in the evacuation of the 18,000 Indians in the country, while the External Affairs Ministry said another passenger ship, presently in the Mediterranean Sea, is being chartered for evacuation and expected to reach Libya's Benghazi on Monday.

The Indian Navy's INS Jalashwa and INS Mysore - specially equipped for the mission with full medical facilities on board, including operation theatres, doctors and paramedical staff,  set sail from Mumbai.

The main rescue vessel, INS Jalashwa is a Landing Platform Dock-type amphibious platform particularly designed for sea lift mission and also capable of undertaking humanitarian missions, while INS Mysore is a Delhi Class destroyer.

The ships are also carrying helicopters and a contingent of marine Special Forces personnel.

Scotia Prince, another chartered ship, is already on its way to Libya) and will transport the Indians to a safer destination from where they will be airlifted, Shipping Minister G K Vasan said in Chennai.

Another ship, INS Aditya is also accompanying the two rescue ships to provide them the necessary logistics support.

The ships will evacuate Indian nationals from Libya to either Malta or Egypt, from where they will be transferred by air to India.

The rescue fleet is expected to reach Libya in 10 days' time, the official said.



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