New Delhi: "India will operate 26 IAF & Civilian Flights in the next 72 hours to evacuate Indians under Operation Ganga," India's foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Tuesday evening. Briefing media here in the national capital he said that "We had an estimated 20,000 Indian students in Ukraine at the time that we issued our first advisory. From that number approximately 12,000 have since left Ukraine, which is 60% of the total number of our citizens in Ukraine". He was addressing a press conference on Tuesday evening.
Meanwhile, sources placed with Indian Air Force have confirmed that the force is all set for any requirement related to the evacuation of Indians stuck in Ukraine. IAF is likely to deploy C-17 transport aircraft from its fleet for Operation Ganga. Till the time of writing this story, 10 flights carrying as many as 1500 Indians have taken off since the beginning of the evacuation operation. The tenth Air India flight AI1942 carrying 182 Indian nationals evacuated from Ukraine took off from the Romanian capital Bucharest on Tuesday evening.
It is pertinent to mention here that last year, when Afghanistan fell to Taliban 2.0, IAF had deployed the C-17 to help in evacuating Indians who were stranded there. C-17 Globemasters are an important part of IAF's fleet and perform combat and strategic airlift capability. These aircraft have been used in various operations from the time they joined the IAF's Sky Lords squadron in September 2013.
The aircraft was selected in 2009 for IAF's requirement of 'Very Heavy Lift Transport Aircraft'. And the contract was inked in 2011 for 10 C-17 Globemaster III for USD 4.1 billion. Today there are 11 C-17 Globemaster III in the fleet and this has made India's the biggest operator of these aircraft outside the US.
Shringla further said that India has shifted its embassy from Ukraine's capital #Kyiv to another city #Lviv where bombshells are not raining like Kyiv so that the process of evacuation continues at an uninterrupted pace. He also claimed that all Indians have been evacuated from Kyiv at the time the last advisory was issued.
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