India starts evacuation flights from Libya

Air India is sending two aircraft to evacuate some of the 18,000 Indian citizens from violence-stricken Libya.

The Press Trust of India news agency says the Libyan government has given clearance for the Boeing 747 and Airbus 330 to operate from the Tripoli airport over the next 10 days.

Airlines spokesman Kanwaljeet Rattan says one aircraft flying from Mumbai has reached Tripoli and is expected to return by midnight Saturday. Both planes have been chartered by the External Affairs Ministry.

Along with the evacuation flights, the passenger ship Scotia Prince is expected to dock at the Libyan port of Benghazi on Monday to ferry more than 1,200 passengers to Alexandria, Egypt, from where Air India flights will take them back home.