A total of 30 flights have been operated and around 6,400 people brought back under Operation Ganga that was launched to evacuate Indian nationals in Ukraine, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday. MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the number of Indians who have left Ukraine since advisories were issued was nearly 18,000.
"The pace of Operation Ganga continues to accelerate. During the last 24 hours, 15 flights landed in India, bringing back more than 3,000 Indians," he said at a media briefing here. "With this, it takes the total number of flights under operation Ganga to 30. So, we have brought back around 6,400 Indian citizens," Bagchi said this evening.
During the next 24 hours, 18 flights have been scheduled, of these three would be C-17 Indian Air Force flights and the other flights are commercial, he said. In terms of the departure points from Europe, there will be seven flights from Bucharest (Romania), five from Budapest (Hungary), three from Rzeszow (Poland) and one from Košice (Slovakia), Bagchi said. A new location has been identified near the Romanian border in the city of Suceava (Romania) from where two flights will be operated in the next 24 hours, he said, adding that this would make it easier for Indians and save them from undertaking the long drive to Bucharest.
Bagchi said that the increased number of flights reflects the large number of Indians who have crossed over from Ukraine and are now in the neighbouring countries. "We will further step up efforts to bring all these Indians, who are now in safety, back to India at the earliest...We hope that over the next two-three days, a large number of these people will be back home. Till they are brought home, after having crossed the Ukrainian border, our embassies in cooperation with the host governments and local partners are providing food and accommodation to them," he said.
"So, I would like to take this opportunity to appreciate the Ukranian government for facilitating the evacuation of Indian nationals despite their own challenges. I would also like to thank Ukraine's neighbours for taking extra effort and hosting our people and all the support," the MEA spokesperson said. India has been evacuating its citizens through special flights from Ukraine's western neighbours such as Romania, Hungary and Poland as the Ukrainian airspace has been shut since February 24 due to the Russian military offensive.
With PTI Inputs