On "Vande Bharat" Day 4, Over 1,500 Indians To Be Brought Back: Top 10

Vande Bharat Mission: An Indian Navy warship brought back 698 people from the Maldives on Sunday, while Air India flights from the United Kingdom, Singapore and Philippines, are expected to repatriate around 800 more.

On 'Vande Bharat' Day 4, Over 1,500 Indians To Be Brought Back: Top 10

Vande Bharat: Government has launched massive repatriation exercise to bring back Indians stranded abroad

New Delhi: Over 1,500 Indian nationals stranded abroad by the coronavirus lockdown are expected to be repatriated on Sunday, the fourth day of a mammoth operation by the government that involves sending commercial passenger jets and Indian Navy warships to over a dozen countries. Billed as India's largest peacetime repatriation exercise, national carrier Air India will carry out "Operation Vande Bharat", the first phase (May 7 and May 15) will see around 15,000 people brought back on 64 flights. Meanwhile, three naval ships have begun "Operation Samudra Setu", under which more Indians will be brought back. Repatriation is taking place amid fear that those being brought back could contribute to the spread of the virus in the country. The government has said that only people with no signs of infection will be allowed to return and that they will have to undergo 14-day quarantine on arrival. India has reported over 60,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 2,000 deaths so far.

Here are the top 10 points on Vande bharat Mission, Day 4:

  1. Five COVID-19 cases have been detected among 363 Indians repatriated from Abu Dhabi and Dubai via Air India flights that landed in Kerala's Kochi on Sunday. Two of those cases had been reported on Saturday. The southern state, initially among those worst hit by the outbreak, last week said it had "flattened the curve" and, simultaneously, warned of a fresh wave of cases linked to Indians brought back.

  2. Last week Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying it was dangerous to bring back Indians stranded abroad without testing them for the virus. "Our fellow Indians have to be brought back but it is unfortunate that internationally followed protocols are not being followed," he said.

  3. Warship INS Jalashwa docked at Kerala's Kochi port at 9.30 am Sunday carrying 698 Indians from Maldives. Nineteen pregnant women were among those on board the ship, which set sail from Male on May 8. The passengers, who thanked the Navy for taking good care of them during the journey, had paid $40 as "repatriation service charge", the High Commission of India in the Maldives said.

  4. A second Navy ship - INS Magar - docked at Male Sunday afternoon. The ship, originally designed for landing operations, will bring back around 200 people from the Maldives; they will be quartered in specially-prepared quarters, with care being taken to avoid crowding in common areas like halls, dining rooms and bathrooms.

  5. Also on Sunday, 572 people landed at Mumbai airport in two Air India flights - one from the United Kingdom with 329 people and another from Singapore with 243 people. A third - carrying 241 people from Philippines capital Manila - is scheduled to land tonight, a Maharashtra government official told news agency PTI. In addition, 21 people were brought back from Uzbekistan via an Uzbek Air flight that will take back people from that country stranded in India, as well as medical supplies.

  6. A second flight from the UK took off from London's Heathrow Airport on Sunday afternoon, carrying 323 passengers and the body of a 37-year-old man. It is expected to land at Bengaluru airport in Karnataka later the same day. This is the second of seven flights scheduled between UK and India in the first phase, with the others flying to Hyderabad, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Chennai and Delhi.

  7. The first repatriation flight from the United States took off from the San Francisco International Airport on Sunday, with around 200 people on board, news agency ANI reported, for Mumbai and Hyderabad. In total seven flights have been scheduled from the US. One will fly people from New Jersey's Newark International Airport to Mumbai and Ahmedabad, while another will fly from Newark to Delhi and Hyderabad on May 14.

  8. Two others will fly out from Chicago to Mumbai and Chennai (on May 11) and Delhi and Hyderabad (May 15), with yet another scheduled from Washington, D.C. to Delhi on May 12. As many as 25,000 people have registered to be flown back from the United States, TS Sandhu, India's Ambassador to the US, told ANI.

  9. On Saturday over 1,300 Indians were flown back from the Gulf, Malaysia and Bangladesh, according to Union Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri. An Indian brought back from Sharjah in the UAE said he had lost his job due to the coronavirus outbreak and had not been paid for four months before his employer paid for his flight home.

  10. In total, the government will bring back Indians from the UAE, the US, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Qatar, Malaysia, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Oman, the Maldives, Dubai and Bahrain. Starting Monday, the list of countries will include Russia, Germany, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Spain and Thailand. All those being repatriated have paid for their flights, with tickets from Rs 12,000 for flights from Bangladesh to Rs 50,000 for a flight from the United Kingdom and Rs 1 lakh for travel from the United States.

With input from ANI, PTI