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Stranded passengers fly back home in first two flights by UAE-India repatriation

Hundreds of stranded Indian passengers boarded repatriation flights with great sense of hope and relief but one eye firmly on a return ticket to the UAE as and when situation improves. (Photos by Juidin Bernarrd /KT)

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India began the world’s largest ever repatriation mission today to bring back citizens stranded abroad due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The first two flights from UAE (Dubai, Abu Dhabi) landed tonight in Kerala’s Kochi and Kozhikode. Several passengers Khaleej Times spoke to said they hope to return to the UAE soon. (Photos by Juidin Bernarrd /KT)

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Naushad, who lost his job in Dubai, is going back to Kerala. He said he was unwell and wants to take medical treatment at Vellore. (Photo by Juidin Bernarrd/ Khaleej Times)

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First to reach the airport: Sneha Thomas from Pulppally in Wayanad is working as a staff nurse in Fujairah, was among the first to reach the airport in Dubai on Thursday. The eight-month pregnant woman was dropped at the airport by her husband Somi Jose. Sneha was among 11 pregnant women flew to Kozhikode in theIr India Express flight from Dubai. She hopes things will be back to normal soon. (Photo by Juidin Bernarrd/ Khaleej Times)

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PKC Mohammed Haji, an 84 year old from Kozhikode is on his way back home with his grandson Mohammed Riyas. “I didn’t leave my sons house even once. Today is the first time I am coming out of his apartment.“ (Photo by Juidin Bernarrd/ Khaleej Times)

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Going back together: Muneeruddin, a Dubai resident for 26 years, lost his job in the current crisis. He registered on the consulate website and got a call on Wednesday saying that only two family members can fly on Thursday’s flight. “I replied them that we need to return as a family. Later, I received a call from Air India Express office, informing that all of us would be allowed to fly. We are happy that we were selected for the first flight,” he added.(Photo by Juidin Bernarrd/ Khaleej Times)

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Earlier, the flights from the UAE took off carrying 177 passengers each today. Passengers started arriving at Abu Dhabi and Dubai airports as early as 9.30am on Thursday. (Photo by Ryan Lim / Khaleej Times)

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The first wave of a massive exercise to repatriate thousands of Indians stuck abroad began on Thursday, with two flights departing from the UAE. The first flight from Abu Dhabi landed in Kerala’s Kochi on Thursday. (Photo by Ryan Lim / Khaleej Times)

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India banned all incoming international flights in late March as it imposed one of the world’s strictest coronavirus lockdowns, leaving vast numbers of workers and students stranded. (Photo by Ryan Lim / Khaleej Times)

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The consulate in Dubai said that it alone had received almost 200,000 applications, appealing on Twitter for “patience and cooperation” as India undertakes the “massive task” of repatriation. (Photo by Ryan Lim / Khaleej Times)

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Indian citizens with coveted tickets, arrived at Abu Dhabi airport, were greeted by medics in masks, gloves and plastic aprons who took blood samples for antibody tests. (Photo by Ryan Lim / Khaleej Times)

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Most of those aboard were workers who had lost their jobs, together with pregnant women, the elderly and some stranded tourists. (Photo by Ryan Lim / Khaleej Times)

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The two flights from the UAE, both destined for the southern Indian state of Kerala, transported just 354 people. (Photo by Ryan Lim / Khaleej Times)

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