The number of Indians evacuated from Nepal crossed 1,400 on Sunday as another flight with 141 on board landed in New Delhi. The total number of people brought back from the quake-hit Himalayan nation since the first plane landed late on Saturday night is now 1,417.
“#NepalEarthquake. One more IAF flight arrives in Delhi with 226 stranded Indians in Kathmandu. Total evacuees – 1417,” External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup tweeted.
Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, meanwhile, said the government was also trying to get people out of Nepal through buses, and some movement will start by Monday morning. The first Indian Air Force (IAF) plane to arrive here from the Nepalese capital was a C-130J Super Hercules with 55 passengers, including four infants, on board around 10.45 p.m. on Saturday.
It was followed by a C-17 Globemaster III, a little after midnight with 102 passengers, including an infant. In the early hours of Sunday, an IL-76 aircraft brought back 152 passengers, and around 4.45 a.m., another C-17 Globemaster III returned with 247 Indians.
The movement had to be suspended between 1.30 and 3 p.m. due to fresh tremors in Nepal. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Sunday morning that the IAF will bring back a total of 1,500 Indians stranded in earthquake-hit Nepal.
“We brought back around 500 people yesterday (Saturday) and today (Sunday). We will evacuate 1,500 Indians from Nepal,” Parrikar told reporters on the margins of a defence investiture ceremony here.
Jaishankar said a “few thousand” Indians as well as people from other countries were stranded in Kathmandu. He appealed to them to be “patient”.
“We have a lot of Indians and citizens of other countries. We have to tell them they have to understand relief and rescue in Kathmandu is our primary purpose. We have to fly in loads of equipment and supplies. We will accommodate as many people as we can in bringing them back. This will take a little bit time,” said Jaishankar.
He also said the Indian government will try to evacuate people through buses. “Hope we will be able to get people out of Kathmandu by buses. We have been trying to confirm access of two roads to Kathmandu. To the best of our information, these roads are open but the traffic is very slow,” he said.
“We are expecting about 35 buses to move out of these two routes. We have also asked our embassy in Kathmandu to see if they can organise buses and send people. They are having difficulty because buses and drivers are not readily available but they are making best efforts. By tomorrow (Monday) morning, we will have some bus movements,” he said.
Home Secretary L.C. Goyal said the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) has been asked to allow buses from the Indian side to enter Nepal to evacuate people.
Over 2,500 people have died in Nepal as an earthquake and several strong aftershocks caused widespread destruction. At least 62 people died in India. (IANS)