New Delhi | A batch of Indian nationals evacuated from strife-torn Sudan landed in Delhi on Wednesday, heaving a sigh of relief after returning to their homeland.
India has evacuated at least 534 Indian nationals from Sudan and is looking to rescue more of its citizens from the strife-torn African nation before the end of a tenuous ceasefire between the regular army and a paramilitary force.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar took to Twitter to share images of the evacuees after their arrival at the Indira Gandhi International Airport here.
"India welcomes back its own. Operation Kaveri brings 360 Indian nationals to the homeland as first flight reaches New Delhi," he tweeted.
At the Delhi airport's Terminal 3, as people deboarded the aircraft of Saudia -- a Saudi Arabian airline -- and slowly streamed on to the arrival lounge area, smiles could be seen on the faces of many who went through tense moments over the past few days.
Many waved emphatically, displaying a visible sign of relief, while others shook hands on the skybridge as they were welcomed on their return.
Several were seen carrying their luggages, accompanied by children. They also obliged a few photographers with pictures upon their safe return.
Among the Indian evacuees who reached Delhi airport in the Saudia Airlines flight, 19 are from Kerala, Kerala government officials said.
Under its evacuation mission 'Operation Kaveri', India is taking the evacuees to the Saudi Arabian city of Jeddah from where they are returning home.
India has set up a transit facility in Jeddah and Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan is overseeing the evacuation mission from the Saudi Arabian city.
Meanwhile, IndiGo said it has offered services for charter flights to Jeddah under the government's 'Operation Kaveri'.
"We are still awaiting details from the ministry to launch these flights, nothing has been confirmed as of yet," the airline said in a statement.
Two C-130J military transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force brought to Jeddah 256 Indians from Port Sudan on Wednesday, a day after an Indian Navy ship rescued 278 citizens from that country.
The total number of Indians evacuated so far from Sudan stands at 534, according to official data.
The first batch of 278 Indians were evacuated from Port Sudan by the Indian Navy's frontline ship INS Sumedha on Tuesday.