An Air India flight carrying 263 Indians, most of whom are students, left for India from Rome on Sunday as Italy becomes the hotbed of coronavirus pandemic.

India’s national air carrier has deployed a Boeing 787-Dreamliner with 12 crew members to bring back stranded Indians.

The special flight departed from Delhi at 2.30 PM on Saturday and left Rome this morning.

This comes as India has banned international flights from landing from March 22 for a week.

“263 Indian students and compassionate cases departed for India by special AI flight from Rome fulfilling our commitment to ensure their safe return home. Sincere thanks to Air India Italian authorities,” the embassy of India in Italy said in a tweet.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation had said on Thursday that Air India would be mounting a 787-Dreamliner to Rome, the capital city of Italy, to evacuate Indians stranded there in view of the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

According to John Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Centre, Italy has reported 53,578 cases and 4,825 deaths.

This is the third evacuation flight from Italy. Earlier, 218 people were evacuated from Italy’s Milan on March 15. They include 211 students and 7 compassionate cases who were evacuated through an Air India flight. On March 11, 83 people were evacuated from Italy.

The evacuees have been kept at Army’s Manesar quarantine facility.

India has so far reported 315 positive coronavirus cases, including four deaths.

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