THE HJAGUE: As many as 276 Indians stranded in the Netherland due to the coronavirus-induced global travel restrictions have returned home on board a special KLM flight as part of the 'Vande Bharat Mission', an official said on Wednesday.
Of the total passengers, who reached Mumbai on Tuesday, 107 of them were flown to the Netherlands from other countries such as 52 from Mexico, 47 from Peru and eight from Portugal, the official said in a statement.
Around 276 Indian nationals stranded in the Netherlands were successfully evacuated on Tuesday by a special KLM flight, the Indian Embassy here said in a statement.
India's Ambassador to the Netherlands Venu Rajamony personally saw off the passengers as they boarded the aircraft at Amsterdam Schiphol airport.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is the flag carrier of the Netherlands.
"There were tears of joy and heartfelt gratitude as the individuals profusely thanked the Indian Embassy for coming to their aid in their time of distress," the Indian mission said in the statement.
Earlier in March, the embassy played a major role in the evacuation of 117 Indian nationals stranded at Schiphol airport when the travel ban on international commercial passenger flights came into force.
"Since then the embassy has assisted the remaining stranded Indians by providing accommodation and meals during the course of the extended travel ban and has also guided those with a medical condition to healthcare support," the statement said.
There are around 1,000 Indians who are to be repatriated in the ensuing weeks.
On June 8, another batch of stranded Indians will be sent home by a special Air India flight from Amsterdam to New Delhi as part of the second leg of the 'Vande Bharat Mission', it said.
The Netherlands has the second largest population of people of Indian-origin in Europe after the UK.
It is home to about 2,40,000 members of the Indian diaspora including approximately two lakh members of and Hindustani-Surinami community wholly integrated into the Dutch society.
"Although their forebears left India nearly 150 years ago, the Hindustani-Surinami community has deep cultural links with India and is active in promoting cultural cooperation through well-established institutions," the statement said.
The Indian community has played a significant role in contributing to the cultural traditions of both the countries in a mutually harmonious and beneficial manner while also helping in expanding and creating a favourable climate for further improvement of bilateral business relations.
"The Indian community is the fastest growing group of expatriates in metropolitan Amsterdam and has in its own way contributed to the enrichment of cultural ethos as well as the commercial success of the city," it added.
The Indian government launched the 'Vande Bharat Mission' on May 7 to bring back Indians stranded in various countries due to coronavirus-related restrictions.
Under Phase I of the mission, the government evacuated a total of 6,527 Indians from the Gulf region and from countries like the US, the UK, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Malaysia and the Maldives.