The first batch of 58 Indian pilgrims stranded in Iran's capital city Tehran was brought back on Tuesday. The IAF C-17 Globemaster carrying the pilgrims landed at Hindon air force station in Ghaziabad, from where the passengers will be taken to a medical facility. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar tweeted to inform, "The IAF aircraft has landed. Mission completed. On to the next."
About 2,000 Indians are living in Iran, a country that has witnessed increasing numbers of coronavirus cases in the last few days. The military transport aircraft had taken off on Monday at 8:30 pm to bring back the stranded Indian pilgrims.
Early in the morning, the External Affairs Ministers S Jaishankar had announced that the first batch of pilgrims is ready to leave and it will reach India soon.
He also thanked the Indian Embassy in Iran, the Indian medical team and the Indian Air Force for operating under challenging conditions. He took to his Twitter handle and wrote, "Thanks to the efforts of our Embassy in Iran and Indian medical team there, operating under challenging conditions. Thank you Indian Air Force. We appreciate the cooperation of Iranian authorities. We are working on the return of other Indians stranded there."
"Appreciate cooperation of Iranian authorities. We are working on the return of other Indians stranded there (sic)," Jaishankar added.
Iran is among the most affected country by the COVID-19 virus, after China and South Korea. According to the latest reports, 237 people have died of the novel coronavirus in Iran while the number of positive cases stands at around 7,000. It is the second such evacuation by the C-17 Globemaster in the last two weeks.
On February 27, 76 Indians and 36 foreign nationals were brought back from the Chinese city of Wuhan by the aircraft of the Indian Air Force.
The C-17 Globemaster is the largest military aircraft in the IAF's inventory. The plane can carry large combat equipment, troops and humanitarian aid across long distances in all weather conditions.
Four days ago, a Mahan airline plane brought swab samples of 300 Indians from Iran to India.
(With inputs from PTI)
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