South Asia

Two flights a day to evacuate Indians from Libya

Libya-Egypt border
Image caption Many foreigners are now trying to get out of Libya

The Indian government has said it will operate two flights a day out of Libya for the next 10 days to evacuate its nationals.

Foreign Minister SM Krishna said Libya had given India permission to land planes in Tripoli from Saturday.

The minister said that India was also considering sending three warships to help with the evacuation.

Of some 18,000 Indians in Libya, about 3,000 are in Benghazi working for car companies and hospitals.

"As per the schedule informed by Air India today [Friday], two flights per day from Saturday to 7 March will be operated," Mr Krishna said in Delhi.

The government also said that people do not have to pay to be evacuated.

"It has come to our notice that some unscrupulous elements are asking for payments, handling charges or facilitation fee for arranging evacuation of Indian nationals, through the embassy in Libya," the external affairs ministry said in a statement.

"These activities are completely illegal," the statement added.

A passenger ferry - the "Scotia Prince" - which can carry 1,200 people is scheduled to arrive in Libya on Sunday and will take evacuees to Alexandria in Egypt, from where they will be flown home.

On Wednesday, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said India was preparing for a "mammoth operation" involving planes and ships to evacuate its nationals from Libya.

The Indian foreign ministry has condemned the violence in Libya, saying that it gave cause for "serious concern".

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