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First Batch of Indians Rescued from South Sudan Arrive in Kerala

Among those rescued include 46 Keralites, two Nepalese nationals, seven women and three children.

CNN-News18

Updated:July 15, 2016, 12:00 PM IST
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The first batch of one hundred and fifty six persons who were evacuated from South Sudan arrived on a special Indian Air Force C-17 aircraft at the international airport in Thiruvananthapuram early on Friday.

According to officials, at least 500 more Indians will be evacuated in the course of the next few days after a civil war broke own between former rebels and government soldiers in several parts of the city leaving more than 250 dead.

Among those rescued included 46 Keralites, two Nepalese nationals, seven women and three children.

The remaining passengers hailed from other South Indian states. The Kerala government has made special arrangements for their onward journey.

This was part of the 'Operation Sankat Mochan' to evacuate Indians from the African country initiated by the Indian government and was led by Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh.

The flight touched here around 5 a.m. Speaking to reporters at the airport, Singh said two aircrafts were involved in the evacuation operation and the other flight will land in Delhi.

"There were more than 500 Indians evacuated. Over 300 Indians will continue to stay there for their business interests. About 150 Indians are there who work in the oil wells and for them it's easier to go towards Sudan where there are not much issues," Singh said.

"While I was there, I spoke to the vice president of South Sudan and he told me what they are doing with regards the safety of the people there," added Singh.

The Kerala government was represented by State Minister for Electricity Kadakampally Surendran and district officials.

South Sudan President Salva Kiir had on Monday evening ordered a ceasefire after days of heavy fighting between government troops and rebels loyal to Vice President Riek Machar.

The UN has said 36,000 South Sudanese civilians have fled their homes due to the civil war. Embassies and aid organisations in South Sudan are moving to evacuate staff from Juba amid the tenuous ceasefire.

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