300 Indians returning from Egypt on special AI flight
Amid political upheaval in Egypt, around 300 Indians, mostly women and children, are returning to India early on Monday morning aboard a special flight of Air India.
"The government has arranged a special Air India flight at the request of the Indian community in Egypt in view of the prevailing conditions there," the external affairs ministry said in a statement.
"The special flight will carry 300 Indians, mainly women and children. The arrangements are being supervised by the Indian embassy in Cairo," the ministry said.
"An Air India aircraft is expected here (Cairo) at 19.30 pm local time. It will leave for Mumbai at 9 pm local time and will hopefully reach there by 6 am on Monday," said India's Ambassador to Egypt, R Swaminathan.
Embassy officials were present at the Cairo airport to assist Indians leaving Egypt.
"We have already provisioned all passengers at the Cairo airport and I am told 300 odd family members of the Indian embassy are ready to board the flight. Another 300 Tata Group workers and their family members are waiting to be evacuated," Abhay Pathak, the Air India regional manager, Gulf, West Asia and Africa, told CNN-IBN news channel.
Flight schedules in and out of Egypt were disrupted for the last couple of days after anti mgovernment protests broke out, pressing for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, who has been in power for over three decades now.
Due to the disruption in flights, the Indian government took a decision to send a commercial aircraft to Cairo to ferry Indians back home if they desired so. Of the 3,600 Indians in Egypt, 2,200 are residents of Cairo.
Official sources added that more such flights can be operated if the chaos spreads or if there are attacks on Indians or their property.
"We are taking steps to bring back people who want to come back to India.We have advised Indians to avoid non essential travel to Egypt," said External Affairs Minister SM Krishna.
"We are closely monitoring the situation in Egypt. It's an internal matter of Egypt, a country with which we have cordial relations," he said.
"We are closely following with concern, the developments in Egypt. India has traditionally enjoyed close and friendly relations," external affairs ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said. "We hope for an early and peaceful resolution of the situation without further violence and loss of lives," he said.
On Saturday, the external affairs ministry had issued an advisory asking Indians to avoid all non essential travel to Egypt. It also noted that its embassy in Cairo was in touch with the Indians living there and they were safe.