An Indian Air Force aircraft carrying around 15 tonnes of medical supplies left for the coronavirus-hit Chinese city of Wuhan on Wednesday. The C-17 military aircraft will bring back over 80 Indians and around 40 citizens from neighbouring countries, government sources said. Last week, India accused China of deliberately delaying permission to send the aircraft while allowing other countries to operate flight from Wuhan to evacuate their citizens. China had rejected India's charges.
The Ministry of External Affairs said the medical supplies will help augment China's efforts to control the outbreak of coronavirus infection which was declared as a public health emergency by the World Health Organisation.
It said the aircraft carried around 15 tonnes of medical supplies comprising masks, gloves and other emergency medical equipment.
"The assistance being sent today is also a mark of friendship and solidarity from the people of India towards the people of China as the two countries also celebrate 70th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations this year," the MEA said in a statement.
It said the assistance has been provided in the wake the coronavirus outbreak in China and a request by the country to provide supplies such as masks and medical equipment.
The death toll in China's coronavirus epidemic climbed to 2,715 while the number of confirmed cases rose to 78,064.
In a letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping on February 8, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had expressed India's solidarity with the people and government of China and also offered assistance in this "hour of need as a gift".
"The IAF flight will also bring back some Indian and foreign nationals from some of our neighbouring countries who have sought assistance in travelling to India in keeping with Prime Minister Modi's neighbourhood first policy," the MEA said.
The flight will arrive in India on Thursday.