External affairs minister S M Krishna on Tuesday spoke with his Libyan counterpart, Mussa Kussa, as New Delhi has decided to speed up the evacuation of its nationals from the strife torn country. Krishna urged his Libyan counterpart to extend all help for the evacuation of Indian nationals.
Almost 20% of an estimated 18,000 Indians in Libya have been evacuated, even as the government received landing clearance for 3 special flights daily from India to Tripoli up to March 12.
“Arrangements have since been finalized with Libya to receive three special flights daily from India at Tripoli over the next ten days. In addition, we are exploring possibilities of establishing air bridges with Sirte and Sebha in Libya. This should appreciably speed up the process of evacuating our nationals from Libya,” the ministry of external affairs said on Tuesday.
It said the ship Scotia Prince, which had docked at Benghazi on Monday, is setting sail for Alexandria, Egypt, around noon (local time), with an estimated 1,188 Indian nationals on board.
21 more Indian nationals crossed over to Salloum (Egypt) on Monday by road and have been moved to Cairo from where they will leave for Mumbai by Gulf Air, along with 85 other Indian nationals who reached Cairo via the same route, it said.
“Almost twenty per cent of our 18,000 people have been evacuated out of Libya,” foreign secretary Nirupama Rao tweeted.
"Have recd (received) clearance for 3 - three- of our flights per day to Tripoli frm tomorrow till 12th March," she said on Twitter yesterday.
In order to facilitate evacuation of Indians from Libya, Malta waived off visa requirements.
The High Commissioner of Malta to India, Theresa Cutajar, said “this by itself constitutes a manifest expression of the excellent relations between Malta and India. It is the most tangible expression of Maltese solidarity to help friendly countries such as India in times of crisis”.
"The Maltese government is committed to continue extending all assistance to the government of India to help in the evacuation and repatriation of its extensive community in Libya.”