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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 July 2006, 07:04 GMT 08:04 UK
Indians arrive home from Lebanon
Indian evacuee Kalpnath Yadav with head injuries is wheeled by airport staff on arrival from Lebanon
Many were shaken by their ordeal
The first Indians have arrived back home via air and sea after being evacuated from Lebanon as Israel continues its military assault.

An Indian warship carried 600 evacuees to Cyprus on Thursday and an Air India plane took 261 of them to Mumbai, and the rest to Madras (Chennai).

Meanwhile, the Indian foreign ministry has confirmed that an Indian national has been killed in the conflict.

There are an estimated 12,000 Indians and over 90,000 Sri Lankans in Lebanon.

Indian national Devesh Swain died in an attack on his workplace, a glass blowing factory in the Shatura area of Beirut on Wednesday.

Now I am back without a job
Kalidoss
Evacuated Indian

Many of the South Asian nationals are unskilled or semi-skilled labourers working in factories, industrial units or as domestic staff.

Many of them have been living in Lebanon for more than two decades.

"It was a nightmare. I did not sleep for the past seven days," described Kalidoss, 26, who had been employed as a street cleaner.

"Now I am back without a job," he told the BBC.

Israel criticised

Separately, India has criticised Israel for the first time since the crisis began.

"The international community needs to call for an immediate halt to hostilities on all sides, counsel utmost restraint, especially in the excessive use of force by Israel and urge return to dialogue," India's Ambassador to the UN, Nirupam Sen, said.

Indian nationals queuing in front of the boat INS Mumbai in Beirut
Indian nationals were taken first by boat to Larnaca in Cyprus

In Indian-administered Kashmir, a shutdown has been called to protest against the Israeli assault inside Lebanon.

On Friday, several hundred Muslims across India held protests against Israel, burning the country's flag and shouting slogans.

Evacuation is proving a logistical challenge for other South Asian countries.

Bangladesh has asked for help locating and evacuating its nationals stranded in the country.

Dhaka says there are at least 10,000 Bangladeshis in Lebanon. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) says the figure could be much higher.

The Sri Lankan government said on Thursday that it was arranging for the first group of its nationals to travel overland to Damascus on Thursday and Friday. They will then be flown back to Sri Lanka.

The first small group of 300 Sri Lankans left Lebanon on Thursday.

The Indian government is also in touch with the United Nations to find out the future of its peace-keeping mission stationed in Lebanon, which has more than 600 Indian soldiers in the war zone.

The foreign ministry official said an Indian soldier had been wounded either by a stray Israeli shell ricocheting off a rock or by another unidentified object. A protest regarding the incident has been made to the Israeli government.


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