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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Indian killed while fleeing Libya

As an Indian died while trying to escape from strife-torn Libya, New Delhi on Tuesday said it was finalizing plans to evacuate all 18,000 Indians from the country.

Indian killed while fleeing Libya
"Arrangements for air and sea evacuation of our nationals from Libya are being finalized," foreign secretary Nirupama Rao said after a meeting of senior officials from various ministries late on Tuesday.

Foreign ministry sources said approval was being sought from Libyan authorities for evacuation. They said the preferred evacuation point would be Tripoli and Benghazi could be considered only if conditions permitted. The government was also looking at the possibility of using the land route to Egypt.

Foreign minister S M Krishna said, "Whatever needs to be done will be done. The situation is being closely monitored by the external affairs ministry and we are in constant touch with the ambassador there. I am happy to inform that all Indians are safe in Libya."

Earlier, the death of a worker from Tamil Nadu on Monday had sparked off panic. A resident of Tirunelveli, Murugaiah (42), who worked with an automobile company, was said to have been shot dead by protesters but it was later found that he had actually died after the car he was travelling in collided with another vehicle.

Murugaiah and two other Indians were trying to cross over into Egypt in the car when the accident took place. One of his colleagues, Ashok Kumar, was also seriously injured in the mishap.

According to the Indian embassy in Tripoli, reports about Murugaiah's death being a result of firing appeared to be incorrect.

Apart from the three Indians, there were also two Egyptians in the car. The foreign ministry said they were trying to cross over to Egypt from Tobruk (city in northeastern Libya). "Their car met with a head-on collision resulting in all three Indians receiving serious injuries," it said in a statement.

The victims were admitted to Al Vatnam Medical Centre in Tobruk. "A number of Indian nurses are also working at the Centre," the foreign ministry said in its statement. Murugaiah's family members had earlier said that he had been shot by protesters.

Earlier in the day, foreign secretary Rao had suggested that evacuation may not be the most convenient option as of now. "Saw on Stratfor that Turkish Air flight to evacuate their citizens from Benghazi denied permission to land. Returned to Turkey... Please understand that we have 18,000 Indians there. It is not a question of evacuating a few hundred people... Situation Room numbers: +91-11-23015300, 23012113, 23018179. Email: controlroom@mea.," Rao said on Twitter.

In view of prevailing conditions in the Gulf, West Asian and North African regions, the foreign ministry has set up a situation room to provide necessary facilitation to members of the Indian community.

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