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Air India plane lands in Bucharest to bring back Indian nationals stranded in Ukraine

Air India plane lands in Bucharest to bring back Indian nationals stranded in Ukraine.

An Air India plane landed in the Romanian capital Bucharest on Saturday morning to bring back home Indians stranded in Ukraine following the Russian military operation.

The Air India flight took off from the Mumbai airport around 3.40 am and landed at the Bucharest airport around 10.45 am, senior government officials confirmed.

Indian students who reached the Ukraine-Romania border, were taken to Bucharest by the Indian government officials so that they can be evacuated in the Air India flight, the officials said.

Air India said it will be operating flights on B787 aircraft from Delhi and Mumbai to Bucharest and Budapest on Saturday as special government charter flights to fly back stranded Indian citizens.

The Ukrainian airspace has been closed to civil flights since the morning of February 24 as a result of which the evacuation flights are operating out of Bucharest and Budapest.

Around 20,000 Indians, mainly students, are currently stranded in Ukraine, the officials said.

Before the closure of the Ukrainian airspace, Air India had operated a flight to Ukraine's capital Kyiv on February 22 that brought 240 people back to India.

An Air India flight on its way to evacuate Indian citizens from Ukraine had to turn back as it suddenly found that the country’s airspace had been closed.

The Indian embassy in Ukraine on Friday said it is working to establish evacuation routes from Romania and Hungary.

According to sources the issue has been discussed at the highest level.  President Vladimir Putin in his conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday night had assured that the Russian military operation in Ukraine does not represent any threat to the civilian population.

In his telephonic conversation with Putin, the prime minister "sensitised" him about concerns over the safety of the Indian citizens in Ukraine and conveyed that India attaches the highest priority to their safe exit and return home, according to an official statement.

A Russian statement said the President of Russia said that "necessary instructions would be given".

The Indian embassy in Ukraine advised Indians to paste printouts of the Indian flag prominently on vehicles and buses while travelling.

The Indian embassies in Poland and Slovakia also issued separate advisories explaining details about their entry into these two countries.