A total of 698 Indian nationals stranded in the Maldives due to the COVID-19-linked travel restrictions are being brought back from the scenic island nation on an Indian Navy warship.
"Op #SamudraSetu. #INSJalashwa set sail from #Male, #Maldives tonight bringing back 698 of our citizens," the spokesperson of the Indian Navy tweeted on Friday night.
Op #SamudraSetu. #INSJalashwa set sail from #Male, #Maldives tonight bringing back 698 of our citizens. #IndiaFightsCorona@SpokespersonMoD@DefenceMinIndia@MEAIndia@HCIMaldiveshttps://t.co/EuknW138vUpic.twitter.com/fBXkAdRn9s— SpokespersonNavy (@indiannavy) May 8, 2020
India's High Commissioner in the Maldives, Sunjay Sudhir, had earlier expressed his deep gratitude to the Indian Navy, the Maldives govenrment and its agencies for extending complete cooperation for the success of the operation.
An Indian Navy spokesman said there were a number of pregnant women and children among the Indians who are travelling to Kochi in Kerala.
The INS Jalashwa, the Navy's amphibious warship, reached Male on Thursday to undertake the massive repatriation mission named "Operation Samudra Setu" (Sea Bridge).
Mr Sudhir said a second Navy ship INS Magar will leave for Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu on Sunday with 200 Indians. He said the exercise will be repeated next week by the Indian Navy warships.
An overall view of progress of activities & embarkation of our citizens onboard #INSJalashwa.— SpokespersonNavy (@indiannavy) May 8, 2020
The first Naval ship from Male is expected to arrive at the Cochin Port on May 10, Port Trust officials in Kochi said.
The INS Jalashwa is part of the repatriation mission launched by the Indian Navy to bring Indian citizens home from foreign shores, the Indian Navy said in a statement.
The massive repatriation effort is testimony to Maldives-India friendship, the Indian High Commission said in another tweet.
Several Indians who are travelling by the warship lauded the exercise launched by the government.
"It is a very great thing that the High Commission did for us and we did not have any issues till now. We got everything with proper guidelines, all the things done by the High Commission," Pradeep, who hails from Palakkad, said. He works in a resort in Male.