Although many countries have already evacuated most of their citizens, India has finally pressed into service the evacuation plan for its nationals after getting the clearance from Libyan authorities to land at Tripoli on Friday. The focus of Indian evacuation remains getting the nationals to nearby countries such as Malta, Egypt and Tunisia.
While two Air India flights - one from Mumbai which can carry 350 passengers, and the other from Delhi which can fly 290 people will leave for Tripoli early morning on Saturday, a naval ship, INS Jalashwa, will set sail on Saturday for Egypt.
Another ship that can carry 800 people has been directed to take people from Benghazi to Alexandria. Two hundred Indians are set to use the road route from Tobruk to Egypt.
The air evacuations begin even as European Union is planning to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, subject to UN approval. An Indian official said that New Delhi is not opposed to the idea of no-fly zone but has reservations about sanctions against Libya being contemplated at this stage.
Meanwhile, external affairs ministry iterated that that there is no charge of any kind being levied by the government for the evacuation. This follows the reports of "unscrupulous elements" asking for payments for arranging evacuation of Indian nationals, through the Embassy of India in Libya.
Lanka seeks help
Sri Lanka has sought India's help in evacuating some of 1200 of its citizens staying across Libya currently facing a wave of violent pro-democracy protests.
The Sri Lankan High Commission in New Delhi has been asked to contact the relevant Indian authorities to explore the possibility of accommodating Lankans on the ships that India were sending to get its citizens out, foreign ministry sources said Friday. Maldives has also sought a similar demand.
(With inputs from HTC, Colombo)