Largest batch of Indian expats arrives in Kerala

Indian expats aboard the Singapore-Mumbai flight wear face shields on Sunday.
Share If You Like The Article

Ernakulam/New Delhi: A large number of Indians from around the world arrived in the country by air and sea ports on Sunday, with hundreds more expected later on in the day, in what is billed as the world’s largest evacuation exercise.

Indian expats aboard the Singapore-Mumbai flight wear face shields on Sunday.
Indian expats aboard the Singapore-Mumbai flight wear face shields on Sunday.

Close to 700 Indian expats from the Maldives arrived by Indian naval ship INS Jalashwa at the Cochin Port Trust port at Kochi in Kerala’s Ernakulam district on Sunday. It was the Navy’s first evacuation under the Vande Bharat Mission to bring back Indians stranded by the covid-19 pandemic.

Two of the passengers were admitted to a local hospital after they developed covid-19 symptoms, state police said.

Separately, cargo and passenger ship MV Arabian Sea arrived in Kochi from Lakshadweep carrying 121 passengers.

This was the largest batch of expats to arrive in Kerala on a single day. The numbers are expected to rise after a second ship, INS Magar, arrives from the Maldives later on Sunday.

Meanwhile, two more flights—one from Doha and the other from Kuala Lumpur—were to bring in hundreds more to Kerala on Sunday. A third flight, from Doha to Thiruvananthapuram, was cancelled and rescheduled to Tuesday, according to state officials.

Already, nearly half a dozen flights have carried thousands of people in the last two days. The bulk of them are quarantined in Kerala, and two have tested positive for covid-19. Kerala is one of the few states to flatten the virus curve.

India is now operating seven flights as part of the Vande Bharat Mission on Sunday. These are from London to Mumbai, Singapore to Mumbai, Riyadh to Delhi, Doha to Kochi, Kuwait to Chennai, Kuala Lumpur to Kochi and London to Delhi. Of these, the flights from London, Singapore and Doha reached early in the morning and the rest are expected to land at night. In total, India is planning to return close to 15,000 expats on 64 flights in a week since Thursday.

In addition, 21 Indians returned from Uzbekistan on a special flight.

“INSJalashwa has arrived in Kochi with the first batch of 698 Indians from Maldives. Thank @indiannavy @DefenceMinIndia & Kerala Govt for support and cooperation. Excellent work by HC @sunjaysudhir and his team @HCIMaldives. Now on to the next one!” tweeted external affairs minister S. Jaishankar.

The returnees face a social crisis. Of those who returned aboard INS Jalashwa, mostly migrant labourers, 633 have reportedly lost their jobs. After arriving at the cruise terminal of the Cochin Port Trust, all passengers were segregated and screened for covid-19 symptoms. They will be transported to their home districts by state-run buses and placed in institutional quarantine for 14 days.

Share If You Like The Article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *