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Nearly 12,000 Indians have left Ukraine; 26 evacuation flights over next 3 days: Centre

Nearly 12,000 Indians have left Ukraine; 26 evacuation flights over next 3 days: Centre
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New Delhi: All Indian nationals have left Ukrainian capital Kyiv, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said on Tuesday.

At a media briefing, Shringla said he has conveyed to envoys of Russia and Ukraine India's demand for "urgent safe passage" for all Indian nationals stuck in Kharkiv and other conflict zones.

The Indian embassy in Kyiv has been shut and the staff shifted in view of a possible escalation in Russian military action.

He said at a high-level meeting on the Ukraine crisis, PM Narendra Modi expressed deep anguish over the loss of life of an Indian citizen in Kharkiv.

"We remain very concerned over the situation in Kharkiv, Sumy and other conflict zones," Shringla said.

"Over the next three days, 26 flights have been scheduled to bring back Indian citizens," he said.

"All of our nationals have left Kyiv. The information with us is that we have no more nationals left in Kyiv, nobody has contacted us from Kyiv since. All our inquiries reveal that each and every one of our nationals has come out of Kyiv," he added.

There were an estimated 20,000 Indian students in Ukraine when the government issued its first advisory. "From that number, approximately 12,000 have since left Ukraine, which is 60 per cent of the total," the Foreign Secretary said.

"Among the remaining 40 per cent, roughly half remain in conflict zone in Kharkiv, Sumy area and the other half have either reached the western borders of Ukraine or are heading towards the western part of Ukraine — they are generally out of conflict areas," he said.

Shringla said a C-17 IAF aircraft is expected to fly out at 4 am on Wednesday to Romania to repatriate our citizens.

India has been operating flights to bring back Indians from Romania and Hungary after they crossed over to these countries.

Shringla also said that Prime Minister Modi received a call from President of France Emmanuel Macron. Modi also spoke to the President of Poland.

Apart from Bucharest and Budapest, airports in Poland and the Slovak Republic will also be used to operate evacuation flights, he said.

At least five persons died and five others were wounded on Tuesday after Russian troops attacked the main television tower in the heart of Kyiv. The attack potentially disrupted the tower's signal, said Ukrainian Interior ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko.

A blast was heard around Kyiv and smoke was seen rising in Babi Yar district, the interior ministry said, adding that equipment had been damaged and television channels "won't work for a while".

According to local media reports, a series of explosions went off after which Ukrainian TV channels stopped broadcasting.

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