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Over 15,000 Indians safely evacuated from Libya


Suhasini Haidar,CNN-IBN
Mar 12, 2011 at 12:16am IST

New Delhi: Operation Safe Homecoming is over with 15,000 Indians being evacuated from Libya by air and sea in two weeks. The last flight carrying stranded Indians in strife-torn Libya landed in New Delhi on Friday morning. There was visible relief and exhaustion on the faces of passengers many of whom travelled from interior Libya at great personal risk to board flights from Tripoli.

There were certain tense moments when the flight was delayed by an hour to let the last of the Indians come in from some of the far off towns like Misrata that has seen some of the worst violence in the last couple of days. One of the Indian called the situation in Misrata "very bad".

"It's a very bad situation. No food, no water, they have trapped us there. There has been a lot of firing," he said.

"We felt like we wouldn't be able to make it back to India. We are very, very thankful to our government that they got us back, and want to especially thank Air India for getting us back till here," he said.

The man also spoke about how he and his friends escaped from Misrata.

"We came in a car from there. First it took us two-four days to get the car. No one was listening to us at first, not even the company (we work for). They told us to come to Tripoli. But it was hard to get out. There were to taxis. No one was willing to take us. When we came from there there was so much traffic and so much checking. They took everything we had, all our money," he added.

Officials in New Delhi believe there are still 2000-3000 Indians still in Libya but they are quite confident that those who have stayed on have stayed voluntarily. Even so, the stories of escape from the Libya conflict zone make entire Operation Safe Homecoming seem even more urgent at the time it was pressed into service.

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