NEW DELHI, March 5 (IANS) - With six more flights bringing in stranded Indians from Libya, India said Saturday that over 9,200 people had been evacuated from the strife-torn country. But thousands are waiting to be brought home.
The external ministry said that in the past 24 hours, two Air India special flights from Tripoli, one from Sebha in Libya and three flights from Djerba in neighbouring Tunisia had reached India.
At least 220 Indians returned to Mumbai Saturday from Tunisia via Dubai on an Emirates flight.
Two other chartered flights, including one of Egypt Air, flew in 170 and 190 people respectively to India from Tunisia, the ministry said.
Dubbed "Operation Safe Homecoming", India last week began the evacuation - the biggest mounted since the August 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait that forced thousands of Indians to flee to Jordan from where they flew home.
Nearly 18,000 Indians lived in Libya when widespread protests aimed at ousting long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi erupted in the middle of February, quickly leading to violence, fighting and chaos.
The government said the pace of evacuation from Libya had been stepped up.
"Already over 9,200 of our nationals have left Libya on 24 special flights, ships, commercial carriers and by road since the process began Feb 26," the statement said.
Many Indians are fleeing by road to Egypt.
"The number of our nationals taking the land route to Salloum (Egypt) is growing steadily. A record high of 191 crossed over March 3 evening and 12 on March 4," the ministry said.
It said they were assisted by Indian officials with visas, transported to Cairo, provided hotels to stay and booked on commercial flights for travel to India.
At least 400 Indians would be rescued by a chartered ship, MV Red Star, now docked in Libya.
It would sail to Malta and the people would then be flown to India on two chartered aircraft of Kingfisher and Jet Airways, the ministry said.