Air India's 423-seater jumbo B747 plane will depart from Delhi airport at 12.30pm on Friday to evacuate Indian nationals who are in China, as the neighbouring country deals with the novel Coronavirus outbreak. "The B747 plane is all set to depart from Delhi at 12.30pm. It arrived from Mumbai on Friday morning," said a senior airline official, according to PTI.
The government has reached out to over 600 Indians living in China's Hubei province, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak, to ascertain their willingness to be brought back to India. India has already approached Chinese authorities to allow it to send two flights to Wuhan, the capital of Hubei, to bring back Indian nationals, and the evacuation process will start from today.
"We have established contact with over 600 Indians across the province and are individually ascertaining their willingness to be repatriated. Our Mission in Beijing is working round-the-clock on the ground to work out the necessary logistics," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said at a media briefing.
Kumar said there is no report of any Indian being affected by the coronavirus in either Hubei province or in any other country. The MEA spokesperson also said that India has not put any restriction on the movement of people from China to India in view of the coronavirus outbreak in the country. He said the government has been conducting a regular review of the situation arising out of the outbreak of coronavirus in China.
"We have made a formal request to the government of China for bringing back Indian nationals from the Hubei province in two flights. We are awaiting for the necessary approval from the Chinese side. We hope this will be granted soon," Kumar said. Kumar said arrangements are being put in place for people to travel to the airport in Wuhan.
"We remain committed to the safety and well-being of our nationals abroad. We appreciate the support extended by the government of China and other ministries in the government of India in putting this process together," Kumar said.
He said the number of Indians in Hubei province used to be around 1,200, but it is difficult for the government to find out the exact number now.
-Inputs from PTI