IAF rescues 58 Indians stranded in Iran amid coronavirus outbreak

IAF's C-17 Globemaster military aircraft landed in Hindon air base today morning (ANI Photo)

The first batch of 58 Indians was Tuesday evacuated from Iran, one of the countries worst-hit by the coronavirus outbreak. An IAF aircraft, carrying mostly pilgrims and students, landed at Ghaziabad's Hindon airbase just before 10 am Tuesday morning. The evacuees will spend at least 14 days at a quarantine facility set up in Hindon, before being allowed to travel to their respective states.

IAF's C-17 Globemaster military aircraft left for Iran from the Hindon airbase on at 8.30 pm Monday. A specialist medical team was on board the aircraft.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar thanked Iran authorities, the Iranian Embassy and the IAF for their efforts. "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 cooperation of Iranian authorities. We are working on the return of other Indians stranded there."

Here's the latest news on the coronavirus outbreak

Swab samples of the Indians stranded in Iran were brought to India on March 6, ahead of the evacuation. Only those who have tested negative for coronavirus were rescued Tuesday — as per international norms, patients with coronavirus cannot be transported. An estimated 1,200 Indians are still in Iran

This is the second such evacuation by the initiated by the Indian government since the outbreak of COVID-19. As many as 76 Indians and 36 foreign nationals were brought back via an IAF flight from Wuhan city in China on February 27. Prior to this, on February 1, an Air India flight brought home 324 Indian from Wuhan city.

Two airlines, Iran Air and Mahan Air, have stopped operating flights to New Delhi and Mumbai since February 28, after India prohibited flights from Iran as a precautionary measure against the coronavirus.

A team of World Health Organization (WHO) experts was sent to Iran on March 2 to review health infrastructure, laboratories and help the country fight the virus.