Beijing: As over 100 Indians stuck in China's coronavirus-hit Hubei province anxiously await their evacuation, the Indian embassy here has informed the stranded nationals that the delay for a special flight from India to bring them home was due to lack of clearance from the Chinese government.
India operated two Air India special flights to Wuhan, the provincial capital of Hubei and the epicentre of the COVID-19, early this month and evacuated 647 Indians and seven Maldivians.
India has announced its plan to send Indian Air Force's biggest plane C-17 Globemaster with medical supplies to China as well as to evacuate remaining Indians numbering over 100. It has also offered to evacuate nationals from the neighbouring countries, depending on the space availability.
In a note to over 100 Indians who opted to be evacuated, the embassy while explaining the reasons for the delay urged them to stay calm and take good care of themselves and wait for evacuation instructions.
India says the third flight which is also carrying relief medical supplies for China is delayed as it has not received permissions from the Chinese government yet.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang in his online media briefing on Friday denied any delay, but did not provide any reason for China not granting the required permission for the flight to go to Wuhan.
Indian officials say China has not assigned any reasons for the delay yet.
"We are continuously pursuing with the Chinese authorities necessary clearance for the relief flight at the earliest. The Chinese side has not yet given these clearances despite being requested to do so," the embassy note said.
"We will intimate you all as soon as we get the same from the Chinese side," it said.
"In the meantime, we would advise you all to take adequate rest and good care of your health. As mentioned earlier, if you are facing any problems related to the availability of food or water or any other issue at your place of residence, do let us know by messaging Embassy officials directly and we will pursue it with the relevant Chinese authorities," it said.
Meanwhile, over 100 Indians who are in touch with the Indian embassy to board the flight are increasingly getting restive in view of the prevailing situation.
The embassy in a note sent through group chat informed them that the flight was ready but it had not received the permission so far.
"We do realise that some of you are getting apprehensive due to the delays and some others are posting speculative information. We would urge you all to remain calm and wait for further updates from the Embassy," it said.
"Please note that we will give you all at least four hours notice to get ready before the arrival of vehicles for pickup," it said.
The death toll in China's novel coronavirus has gone up to to 2,345 with 109 more deaths reported, while the confirmed cases have risen to 76,288, Chinese health officials said on Saturday.
Among the new deaths, 106 were from the Hubei Province, the epicentre of the virus, and one each from Hebei province, Shanghai and Xinjiang.