Fri, 04 Jul 2014 17:45:00 GMT | By IANS, PTI

Nurses to fly back to Kerala from Iraq Saturday: Chandy

Kerala CM Oommen Chandy says an Air India flight will depart from Delhi on Friday evening to Erbil, capital of Kurdistan, and return with the nurses on Saturday morning

Nurses to fly back to Kerala from Iraq Saturday: Chandy (© Reuters)

Air India Boeing 777

Thiruvananthapuram: All 46 women nurses set to be freed by Sunni insurgents in Iraq will fly back to Kerala Saturday morning, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said Friday.

Chandy told IANS over telephone from New Delhi that an Air India flight will depart from the Indian capital Friday evening to Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan.

"There will be one official each from the Kerala and central governments on the plane," he said. "The nurses will board the flight at Erbil and the plane will reach Kochi at 7 a.m. tomorrow."

Chandy said earlier that the nurses, all from Kerala, were set to be freed by the insurgents who had Thursday taken them from Tikrit to Mosul.

Air India sends Boeing 777 to bring back nurses 

Air India is sending a Boeing 777 aircraft to bring back 46 nurses and other Indians stranded in strife-torn Iraq.

The Boeing 777, a long-range plane with a seating capacity for about 300 passengers, has taken off from Delhi's IGI Airport to Erbil in north Iraqi region of Kurdistan and is likely to return to Kochi on its way back, civil aviation ministry officials told here.

Air India, which had kept three wide-body planes and crew on standby for evacuation of Indian nationals from Iraq, was awaiting government's instructions to launch the flights.

Besides the Boeing 777, two Boeing 747 jumbos have been kept ready to fly at short notice, they said, adding that cockpit and cabin crew to operate them were also on standby.

46 Indian nurses, who were forced to move out of Tikrit city in Iraq's conflict zone, were on their way to Erbil, a non-conflict area in the country where a team of Indian officials was waiting to receive them. The flight would directly take them to Kochi as most of them are from Kerala.

The nurses were taken by Sunni militants ISIS on Thursday from a hospital basement in Tikrit to an undisclosed location.

There were about 10,000 Indians before the start of the serious strife between government troops and Sunni militants, backed by al-Qaida. The militants have captured two key cities and are marching towards Baghdad.

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been displaced in the fighting that broke out on June 10.

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