Over 8,500 stranded Indians flown back in 6 days from different countries

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NEW DELHI, May 13 (Xinhua) -- Authorities said Wednesday that 8,503 stranded Indians had been brought back from different countries during the past six days.

"8,503 Indians have been flown back to India in 43 inbound flights operated by Air India and Air India Express in 6 days beginning from May 7," a statement issued by the federal civil aviation ministry said.

The Indian government launched an exercise to repatriate its nationals stranded in different countries because of the lockdown imposed in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak.

The civil aviation ministry was coordinating with the federal foreign ministry for bringing Indians back to their homeland.

Last week, the government said 64 flights will be operated until May 13.

"Air India along with its subsidiary Air India Express are operating a total of 64 flights (42 by Air India and 24 by Air India Express) to 12 countries viz. USA, UK, Bangladesh, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Philippines, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Malaysia to repatriate 14,800 Indians back in the first phase," the statement said.

Officials said during the massive air evacuation mission safety and hygiene protocol laid down by the government were strictly adhered to.

Currently, a ban is in force on domestic and international flight operations. However, international all-cargo operations and flights specifically approved by Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) are exempted from the restrictions.

A nationwide lockdown imposed on March 25 is underway in India to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. On Tuesday evening Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a televised address announced India would enter into the fourth phase of the lockdown to fight COVID-19 with effect from May 18.

"The fourth phase of the lockdown will have new rules which will be announced soon," Modi said during his address. Enditem

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