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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 July 2006, 00:54 GMT 01:54 UK
Indians flee Lebanon devastation
Indian evacuee Kalpnath Yadav with head injuries is wheeled by airport staff on arrival from Lebanon
A first group of Indians flew home on Friday
India has sent two planes to Cyprus to help repatriate more than 840 Indian nationals evacuated there to escape the fighting in Lebanon.

The planes were due to touch down in the Indian cities of Madras and Mumbai (Bombay) in the early hours of Tuesday, the Press Trust of India agency said.

On Friday more than 600 Indians arrived home. Indian navy ships and aircraft remain on standby in the Middle East.

Thousands of Sri Lankans, Bangladeshis and Nepalis are also still in Lebanon.

The Indian nationals were evacuated by two Indian naval ship from Beirut to Larnaca earlier on Monday.

Body flown home

Indians who arrived home on Friday told the BBC that a number of Indians had been killed in Lebanon. But the Indian foreign ministry has confirmed only one death.

The body of Debesh Kumar Swain, who was killed in Israeli air raids on Lebanon last week, arrived in his native Orissa state on Monday.

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

Mr Swain, 42, worked in a glass-blowing factory in the Shatura area of Beirut.

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

Many of the South Asian nationals in Lebanon 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.

An estimated 10,500 Indians and 90,000 Sri Lankans remain in Lebanon.

The International Organisation for Migration, responding to an appeal by the Sri Lankan government, took 270 Sri Lankan citizens out of Lebanon in two convoys on Thursday and Friday.

Bangladesh has also asked for help locating and evacuating an estimated 10,000 of its nationals stranded in the country.

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

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