Special flights to bring back Indians from coronavirus-affected countries
Special flights were expected to bring back Indians from France, the Netherlands and Italy before a week-long suspension of all international flights even as authorities provided support to 120 nationals stranded at the airport in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.
Early on Saturday, KLM flight 871 carrying some 100 Indians from Amsterdam was turned back because of confusion over the interpretation of travel advisories issued by the government.
The aircraft was carrying mainly travellers stranded while in transit from destinations such as the US and Canada, but civil aviation authorities refused to allow it to land in New Delhi as the entry of all passengers from European countries had been banned. Approvals were subsequently obtained and the flight took off on Saturday.
A total of 327 Indians who cleared medical screening were being flown back from Italy in a special Air India flight while more Indians stranded in transit in Paris were being brought back in a Qatar Airways flight via Doha, people familiar with developments said. All the flights were expected to reach India before the beginning of a week-long ban on all international flights from March 22.
Hundreds of Indians stranded at the airport at Kuala Lumpur in Malaysian were taken to hotels, hostels and other facilities by the Indian high commission after being provided food and other provisions. The mission worked with local NGOs and diaspora organisations to provide food and shelter to the stranded travellers, the people cited above said on condition of anonymity.
India’s envoy to Mridul Kumar and other officials interacted with the stranded Indians and urged them to follow the restrictions imposed by Malaysia under its Movement Control Order for their own safety, the people said.
“The stranded travellers will have to stay put for now as these are very challenging times. Indian missions will try their best to help people who are facing problems,” said a person.
At places with large numbers of stranded Indians, the envoys were reaching out to NRIs and disapora organisations to assist them, the people said.
Reports continued to come in of Indian nationals stranded in several cities, including more than 50 students of British universities who were provided shelter at the high commission in London.