Three Air Force aircraft carrying 629 Indians from Ukraine’s neighbouring countries landed at the Hindon air base near Delhi on Saturday morning.
The Indian citizens are being evacuated from war-hit Ukraine’s neighbouring countries such as Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland as the Ukrainian airspace has been shut since February 24 due to the military offensive by Russia.
The IAF in a statement said, "Till date, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has flown 10 sorties to bring back 2,056 passengers, while taking 26 tonnes of relief load to these countries, as part of Operation Ganga.”
Three C-17 heavy lift transport aircraft of the IAF which had taken off on Friday from the Hindon air base returned on Saturday morning, it mentioned.
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The statement further added that these flights evacuated 629 Indian nationals from Romania, Slovakia and Poland. These flights also carried 16.5 tonnes of relief load from India to these countries.
The government said that at least 1,000 Indians - 700 in Sumy and 300 in Kharkiv - are still stranded in conflict zones in eastern Ukraine, adding that arranging buses to evacuate them was proving to be the biggest challenge right now.
"We will continue Operation Ganga till the last person gets evacuated. Roughly 2,000-3,000 (more Indians) are likely to be there (in Ukraine), the number can vary," Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at a briefing.
"Our primary focus is to get Indian students out of conflict zones in eastern Ukraine. We are urging both sides (Russia and Ukraine) to find ways so that we can take out our citizens. A local ceasefire would help," he added.