In order to bring back thousands of Indians stranded abroad in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, India kicked off a massive repatriation operation titled the "Vande Bharat Mission" on Thursday.
Two Air India Express special flights, carrying over 300 Indians from Abu Dhabi and Dubai, landed in Kerala state on Thursday. The flights arrived in the southern Indian state's Kochi and Kozhicode cities respectively.
Visuals from inside the Abu Dhabi-Kochi flight showed the state-run carrier's crew getting ready to take off and chanting "hip hip hurray" while expressing their pleasure at being a part of the mission. All the crew members, donning PPE gear from head to toe, introduced themselves one by one.
@AirIndiaExpress crew members on Abu Dhabi-Kochi Flight- the first flight to bring back Indians under the government's massive repatriation operation 'Vande Bharat Mission', which was kicked off yesterday #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/YLWkyjxKzI— Pratibha Sharma (@PratibhaScribe) May 8, 2020
"We feel extremely proud and privileged to be present in Air India Express to carry out [the] first evacuation under Vande Bharat Mission from Abu-Dhabi to Kochi", said one of the crew members.
Similarly, another repatriation flight from Singapore carrying more than 200 Indians on board landed in India on Friday. More flights that have left to evacuate Indians from Singapore are scheduled to arrive in India later on Friday.
Seeing people coming home is the best feeling for #DelhiAirport. Here’s a glimpse of the first Evacuation flight AI381 to #Delhi that landed a short while ago from @ChangiAirport. #VandeBharatMission@airindiain @HardeepSPuri @MoCA_GoI @IndiainSingapor pic.twitter.com/uUv07b9YN7— Delhi Airport (@DelhiAirport) May 8, 2020
Welcome back to our People !— Sonal Goel (@sonalgoelias) May 8, 2020
Here’s a glimpse of flight AI381 to #Delhi that landed at #IGI @DelhiAirport from Singapore @ChangiAirport
Great Efforts by Team India & Team @IndiainSingapor #VandeBharatMission 🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/fl4oQes3SK
Navy Pitches In
Not just flights, but Navy ships have also been deployed in "Operation Samudra Setu" (Sea Bridge). The Indian Navy's INS Jalashwa has been deployed to repatriate around 750 Indians from Male in the Maldives to Kochi city in India.
Videos show health workers waiting at the sample collection and screening kiosk put up at the Male dock, where the ship docked on Thursday. After being screened, the passengers will be allowed to board the INS Jalashwa.
We normally unload or load containers at Malé Commercial Harbour. Today is different.— Maldives Ports Limited (@Portmv) May 8, 2020
Indian Navy ship INS JALASHWA is docked in #MCH, ready to receive more than 700 Indian expatriates.#StaySafe pic.twitter.com/ykPLYJgSgp
Watch: Embarkation of Indian citizens onboard INS Jalashwa in Male, Maldives begins. Navy personnel in protective gear helps Indians board Navy Ship, carries a baby himself#COVID pic.twitter.com/UImUOtZglh— Sidhant Sibal (@sidhant) May 8, 2020
The Indian Navy team, which docked at Male, yesterday will start with 732 Indians back today.— Arindam Majumder (@ari_maj) May 8, 2020
The Male Airport is being used to screen passengers who will then be transferred to #INSJalashwa
Each will pay a charge of 40$#IndianStrandedAbroad pic.twitter.com/2w2fvkQOGL
The Indian government earlier this week announced it would undertake a phased exercise from 7 May to bring back stranded Indians from 12 countries, including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, the Maldives, Singapore, and the US.
It was stated that 64 flights would be operated until 13 May to repatriate around 15,000 Indian nationals stuck overseas due the COVID-19-induced lockdown restrictions.