New Delhi: The Civil Aviation Ministry’s website crashed on Wednesday as panicked citizens abroad rushed to register for a repatriation of almost 15,000 Indian nationals from 12 countries on planes and naval ships.
The government banned all incoming international flights in late March as it imposed the coronavirus lockdown, leaving hundreds of thousands of workers and students stranded abroad.
Under the first phase of the mass effort announced on Tuesday, two ships were heading towards the Maldives to evacuate some 1,000 Indian citizens while another was headed for the Gulf.
The first of 64 flights over the first week was due to leave the United Arab Emirates – home to more than three million Indians – on Thursday.
A flight from Qatar for Kerala originally scheduled for Thursday was postponed to Saturday, local media reported.
In total 26 flights will bring Indians home from the Gulf region, while others will operate from Southeast Asia, Britain and the United States.
Media reports quoted Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri as saying that two lakh Indians abroad had registered for repatriation and that the final number could be twice that.
His ministry blamed the crashing of its website on “unprecedented traffic” and urged people to check the website of Air India, which is operating the flights, for details.