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India near to finishing Libya evacuation

New Delhi: India said on Thursday it was in the final stage of evacuating 15,000 nationals from strife-torn Libya, with its last flights due to leave the country later in the day.

The government in New Delhi has organised planes, a passenger ship and help for nationals escaping overland from Libya, where Muammar Gaddafi is fighting to retain his grip on power.

The “Scotia Prince” vessel arrived in the Egyptian port of Alexandria from Tripoli on Wednesday, carrying 972 Indians, according to a statement on the Indian Foreign Ministry’s website.

It said the final 2,400 people would return to India on eight special flights from Tripoli and Sebha in Libya and from Egypt by Thursday evening.

India has been working to evacuate its citizens from Libya since February 26, as many countries have rushed to bring nationals to safety amid worsening clashes between Kadhafi’s troops and rebel fighters.

“The ministry is confident that (by Thursday) almost all Indian nationals desirous of leaving Libya will be back home,” the foreign ministry said.

“Two other Indian naval vessels have arrived off the Libyan coast but in all likelihood they may not be needed for evacuations,” an official in New Delhi who declined to be named told AFP.

About 85 percent, or 15,000, of the 18,000 Indians in Libya will have been evacuated, with the remaining 3,000 choosing to remain, he said.

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