Coronavirus: Indians to be airlifted from Wuhan today

NEW DELHI: An Air India Boeing 747 will evacuate stranded Indians from the epicenter of the deadly coronavirus outbreak. The flight landed in Delhi from Mumbai has taken off for Wuhan, China, at around 12.50 pm Friday and is expected to return by 2 am on Saturday.

Five doctors to board the aircraft

The jumbo jet (VT-ESP) “Agra” took off from Mumbai at 9.01 am for Delhi from where five doctors from the health ministry will board the aircraft with all medicines required for the evacuees.

AI chairman Ashwani Lohani was at Delhi Airport when the aircraft landed here and went on board to interact with these crew members who will be operating the flight.

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“We have been ready for the special flight from Day One and were just awaiting clearance from China as Wuhan is in a state of lockdown. Our crew and all other employees are looking forward to bringing home fellow countrymen back from Wuhan to the safety of their home in India,” said an AI official.

Return flight to arrive by 2 am

The return flight is expected to take off from Wuhan at 10 pm (local time) and reach Delhi around 2 am Saturday. Wuhan-Delhi will take about 45 minutes more than the outbound journey due to headwinds.

AI chairman Ashwani Lohani tweeted: “The national carrier once again comes to the rescue – this time to evacuate Indians from Wuhan, the site of the outbreak of coronavirus. This mission begins today with a Jumbo 747 operating between Delhi and Wuhan. Jai Hind”

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The B747-400 was initially supposed to leave from Mumbai for Wuhan and fly back to Delhi. But that was changed to take the necessary men and material from Delhi.

Two pilots operating Agra from Mumbai to Delhi will alight here and then four other pilots will be on board. The 423-seater AI B747 will be flying back over 380 Indians back home.

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