New Delhi, February 2: India airlifted a second batch of 323 stranded Indians and seven Maldivian citizens from China’s coronavirus-hit Wuhan city, taking the total number of people evacuated to 654, officials said. Air India’s jumbo B747 made two flights to Wuhan city – the ground zero of the coronavirus epidemic that has killed 304 people and infected 14,380 others. “The 2nd #AirIndia flight from #Wuhan has just taken off for #Delhi with 323 Indian citizens on board. 7 Maldives citizens are also being evacuated.
Grateful once again to @MFA_China and local authorities all across #Hubei for their assistance,” Indian Ambassador to China Vikram Misri tweeted. “Want to thank my team at @EOIBeijing which mounted a non-stop almost 96-hour long operation to coordinate a complex airlift under challenging circumstances for us, the passengers and local authorities in #Hubei and #Wuhan,” he said in another tweet. “A special word of appreciation for two of our officers who are on board the plane – Deepak Padmakumar and M Balakrishnan – they showed exemplary fortitude and a real spirit of public service by travelling to ground zero in #Wuhan to coordinate airport arrangements. Kudos to both,” he tweeted. Four Indians could not board the second flight after they reported high temperatures. The first flight left early Saturday with 324 stranded Indians mostly students from Wuhan. Officials said that six Indians could not board the first flight as they were stopped by the Chinese immigration officials after they reported high temperature.
The may be quarantined to undergo tests to determine whether they have symptoms of the coronavirus, officials said. Twenty-five others stayed back on their accord, Misri said, adding that there may still be about 100 Indians who remained in Hubei province for which Wuhan is the provincial capital. Ahead of the evacuation operation, the Indian Embassy had informed the Indians that they have to undergo health tests before the flight and undergo 14-day quarantine after reaching India in special camps.