The evacuation of around 600 Indian students stranded in Ukraine's Sumy has started. Union minister Hardeep Singh Puri told reporters that all 694 Indian students, who were stranded in Sumy, have left for Poltava in buses. "Last night, I checked with the control room, 694 Indian students were remaining in Sumy. Today, they have all left in buses for Poltava," Mr Puri told reporters.
A medical student at the Sumy university, who did not wish to be identified, confirmed that buses have arrived and students have started boarding the buses, reported news agency Press Trust of India. "We have been told that we will go to Poltava. I am praying that we reach a safe zone and this misery is over," he was quoted as saying by PTI.
The foreign ministry tweeted that from Poltova, they will board trains to western Ukraine.
Happy to inform that we have been able to move out all Indian students from Sumy.— Arindam Bagchi (@MEAIndia) March 8, 2022
They are currently en route to Poltava, from where they will board trains to western Ukraine.
Flights under #OperationGanga are being prepared to bring them home. pic.twitter.com/s60dyYt9U6
The students were shifted as part of evacuation of civilians from Sumy and the town of Irpin near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv through a green corridor to Poltova, a city in central Ukraine. The foreign ministry of Ukraine tweeted a video of the evacuation of Sumy citizens, saying "We call on Russia to agree on other humanitarian corridors in Ukraine".
We have already started the evacuation of civilians from Sumy to Poltava, including foreign students.— MFA of Ukraine (@MFA_Ukraine) March 8, 2022
We call on Russia to agree on other humanitarian corridors in Ukraine.#Ukraine#StopRussianAggressionpic.twitter.com/pmjhHLkIrH
Sumy, located near the Russian border and around 350 km east of Ukrainian capital Kyiv, has seen heavy fighting since the invasion. Today, at least nine people, including two children, died in an air strike in the city.
The students have been waiting for evacuation for days. On Saturday, unable to cope any longer with the bitter cold, depleting food and water supplies, the students shared videos saying they have decided to begin the risky journey to the Russian border 50 km away.
But they were dissuaded by the government, which contacted them and asked that they "avoid unnecessary risks".
A plan to evacuate them yesterday fell through as Ukraine rejected a Russian plan for a humanitarian corridor to Russia and Belarus.
Soon after, Prime Minister Narendra Modi held discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky on ways to begin the stalled evacuation process of the Indian students from Sumy.