Air India is sending a Boeing 777 aircraft to bring back 46 nurses and other Indians stranded in strife-torn Iraq.
The Boeing 777 (Long Range), with a seating capacity for about 300 passengers, would shortly take off from Delhi’s IGI Airport to Erbil in north Iraqi region of Kurdistan and is likely to return to Kochi on its way back, Civil Aviation Ministry officials told PTI.
Air India, which had kept three wide-body planes and crew on standby for evacuation of Indian nationals from Iraq, was awaiting government’s instructions to launch the flights.
Besides the Boeing 777, two Boeing 747 jumbos have been kept ready to fly at short notice, they said, adding that cockpit and cabin crew to operate them were also on standby.
46 Indian nurses, who were forced to move out of Tikrit city in Iraq’s conflict zone, were on their way to Erbil, a non-conflict area in the country where a team of Indian officials was waiting to receive them. The flight would directly take them to Kochi as most of them are from Kerala.
The nurses were taken by Sunni militants ISIS on Thursday from a hospital basement in Tikrit to an undisclosed location.
There were about 10,000 Indians before the start of the serious strife between government troops and Sunni militants, backed by al Qaida. The militants have captured two key cities and are marching towards Baghdad. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been displaced in the fighting that broke out on June 10.