The government on Thursday said its mega mission to evacuate stranded Indians from abroad will continue till June 13 and the extended phase will cover 47 countries. The second phase of the 'Vande Bharat Mission' was to end on May 22.
However, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said the ongoing phase will last till June 13 and that India is looking at making Frankfurt a hub for the mission.
As of Thursday afternoon, a total of 23,475 Indian nationals were brought back home under the mission which began on May 7.
"We are looking to bring back our nationals from 47 countries on 162 flights. In this phase, we are including places like Istanbul, Ho Chi Minh city, Lagos etc and increasing flights to the USA and Europe," Srivastava said at an online media briefing.
"We are also receiving our nationals stranded abroad onboard flights from other countries which are coming in to evacuate nationals of those countries. We are bringing back our nationals from far flung areas like Argentina, South Africa, Peru, Mongolia," he added.
He said a flight from Buenos Aires arrived early Thursday morning with a total of 62 Indian nationals.
The total Indians evacuated included 4,883 workers, 4,196 students, 3,087 professionals among others.
A total of 2,59,001 people registered to return from 98 countries.
"Operations under this very large and complex exercise are going on smoothly. The ministry and its missions are working very closely in this whole of government exercise with the Ministries of civil aviation, home affairs, health and family welfare, bureau of immigration as well as with concerned state governments," he said.
Private airlines may be involved in third phase of the evacuation mission after June 13, officials said.