India on Monday said it has sought permission from the Libyan authorities to fly its aircraft to the southwestern city of Sabha to evacuate its nationals stranded there.
"India's ambassador to Libya (Mani Mecklai) has sought permission to land aircraft in southwestern city of Sabha," Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao told reporters on the sidelines of a function in New Delhi.
Around 1,000 people, including Indian doctors and their families, are said to be residing in Sabha, located around 1,200 km from the Libyan capital Tripoli, and had requested the Indian government to make arrangements for their evacuation from the airport in central Libya.
Rao added that Indians stranded in the interiors of Libya were finding it difficult to travel to major cities to catch flights to India.
"They are unable to travel since there are no trains in Libya and travel by road is apparently not safe. Therefore, our ambassador in Tripoli has sought permission to land our aircraft at Sabha," she said.
Giving an update on "Operation Safe Homecoming," a multi-pronged operation the Indian government has launched to evacuate most of the 18,000 Indians stranded in Libya, Rao said the government has so far brought back nearly 1,000 citizens from the riot-torn nation.
"Some 1,200 people would be evacuated anytime now by an Indian ship, which will dock at Benghazi port today (Monday)," Rao added.
She did not agree that the Libyan authorities were not responsive to India’s request for permission to use its airports for evacuation.
"We have not faced any major obstacle… they (Libya) are giving us permission in stages," Rao said.
As violence continues across Libya, the United Nations said on Monday that over 100,000 people have fled the country in the past week while Muammar Gaddafi insisted on not giving up power.