The first Vande Bharat Mission flight from Rome took off for Delhi and Kochi with 239 passengers on board, the Indian Embassy in Italy.
Tweeting a few pictures, the Embassy wrote: "First Vande Bharat Mission flight from Rome taking off for Delhi and Kochi today with 239 passengers. Thank Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy, Ministry of External Affairs, India, External Affairs Minister of India, Union Minister for Housing & Urban Affairs, Air India for their support".
Earlier, Reenat Sandhu, Indian Ambassador to Italy interacted with passengers waiting to board the first repatriation flight.
"It's a matter of great pleasure for us that Vande Bharat Mission from Italy is starting today. I want to thank all those who made it possible. We have got excellent support from Italian authorities. I want to thank authorities in India for this mission," Reenat Sandhu said.
Punjabi folk singer Ginni Mahi also thanked the Indian Embassy before boarding the repatriation flight from Rome.
"I want to thank the Indian Embassy for the cooperation they extended to us for a month. Today we are going home safely," said Ginni Mahi.
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Thursday said that more than 20,000 Indians have been brought back to the country under the Vande Bharat Mission so far and more will be brought back in the coming days.
"Under Vande Bharat mission, we have brought back more than 20,000 of our citizens from various destinations. We have at the same time utilised the outgoing aircraft to carry our citizens who live abroad, and needed to travel because they have jobs and other commitments," Mr Puri said at a press conference.
The Indian government launched the first phase of the Vande Bharat Mission on May 7 and the second phase began on May 16.
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