INS Jalashwa sets sail from Male to Kochi with 698 Indians

New Delhi, May 8 (PTI) Indian Navy Ship Jalashwa has set sail from Male to Kochi in Kerala with 698 Indians nationals who were stranded in Maldives amid the coronavirus-triggered lockdown, senior Navy officials said.

This repatriation is part of the Vande Bharat Mission that began on Thursday to bring stranded Indians home from various countries like the UK, the UAE, the US, Maldives, Bahrain and Singapore.

'Total 595 males and 103 females have boarded INS Jalashwa. 19 women are pregnant. The ship has departed from Male,' the Navy officials added.

When the ship arrived at the port of Male, the Defence Attache visited it to discuss and coordinate procedures for embarkation, they said.

'Baggage disinfection stations, medical screening and reception desks at the jetty were set up to ensure safe embarkation while following social distancing norms,' the officials said.

Priority was accorded to pregnant women and children to embark the ship first and bunk allocation was also undertaken by the ship's crew catering to age and medical requirements, they added.

Air India will operate 64 repatriation flights between May 7 and May 14 while the Navy has deployed two ships as India rolled out a massive evacuation operation on Tuesday to bring back thousands of its nationals stranded abroad due to the coronavirus-triggered lockdown.

From the Gulf countries to Malaysia and the UK to the US, the multi-agency operation christened Vande Bharat Mission will see the state-owned airline operate non-scheduled commercial flights till May 14 to ferry around 15,000 Indian nationals from 12 countries.

Inside this mission, the Navy had launched Operation Samudra Setu (Sea Bridge) under which it dispatched two ships to Male to commence the first phase of the evacuation operations from May 8. PTI DSP RAX RAX