India has firmed up one of its biggest evacuation plans in recent times, that can be put in force, at short notice, in view of the worsening situation in Libya.
The plan includes using one hub in Egypt — Alexandra and one in Malta — Valletta to fly people out as well as operating direct flights from southern Libyan cities like Sebha and Kufra.New Delhi is also rushing in more staff to its present mission strength of eight in Tripoli, and an inter-ministering committee consisting officials of ministries of external affairs, defence, civil aviation and shipping.
For a ship to sail from Libya to India it takes six days. Out of the 18,000 Indians in Libya, around 12,000 live in the capital Tripoli, and around. It takes four hours from Tripoli to Valletta, from where they can be flown out.
Benghazi, which is reported to be in the hands of the protesters has an Indian population of 3,000.
A ship can reach Alexandria in Egypt in 8-9 hours from there. A passenger ship, which is the Mediterranean Sea, that can carry 800 people, has been directed to drop anchor in anticipation of an evacuation. However, direct flights can operate from Sebha, which along with nearby areas have 2,000 people and Kufra has an Indian population of 1,000 people.
“We have also put in place plans for possible evacuation by land, air and sea from Libya”, external affairs minister SM Krishna said in a statement in the Parliament on Wednesday.
Krishna said it would be difficult to spell out the timeframe for the proposed evacuation but assured the House that it would be done in the “earliest possible time.”
He also said the evacuation would not entail any costs for the citizens.