The first group of Indians to be evacuated are expected to leave the Libyan city of Benghazi this weekend. The passenger ferry, Scotia Prince that can carry 1200 people, is expected to reach Benghazi, the first point of evacuation, on late Saturday or Sunday to take the Indian nationals to Alexandria in Egypt.
From there, they are flown out by Air India flights. There are some 3000 Indians in and around Benghazi, which is reported to be under the protester’s control. There are 18000 Indians in Libya.
Permission from Libyan authorities has been sought for air-lifting the Indians from the capital Tripoli. “In Tripoli the focus will be on air evacuation. Aircraft are on stand by for this purpose. Libyan landing clearance is awaited and should be received soon,” the ministry of external affairs said. The other plans include taking the citizens by sea to Valletta in Malta from where they can be flown out.
The navy has put three warships on standby anticipating that it may be asked to evacuate Indians stranded in strife-torn Libya. INS Jalashwa, India’s second largest warship, and two destroyers currently deployed in the Arabian Sea have been earmarked for the task. However, the navy has so far received no orders for mounting a rescue operation. The Jalashwa can carry 1,200 to 1,500 people, while the other two warships have a capacity of 200 to 300 each.
Preparations are also in hand for evacuation of our nationals from cities in the interior where air access is possible subject to Libyan clearance. This include the Southern Libyan cities of Sebha, and Kufra—where some 3000 Indian citizens are present.
Indian companies, many of them working in Libya for decades have also offered to work with our Embassy in Tripoli in facilitating evacuation.
Ministry of External Affairs is coordinating closely with other Ministries including Defence, Overseas Indian Affairs and Shipping in making evacuation arrangements. Punj Lloyd, DS Constructions and Simplex Projects Limited are among the larger employers of Indians in Libya.