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AI brings back over 1,600 Indians from Japan

March 18, 2011 21:16 IST

With 337 more persons arriving on Friday, Air India has brought over 1,600 Indians from quake-hit Japan and has carried over 25 tonnes of relief material, including 20,000 blankets, to that country.

"A total of 337 people have arrived from Tokyo in Air India's flight AI 307 today. Since March 12, the airline brought back 1,637 passengers, mostly Indians, from Japan," an Air India official said.

On Thursday, the airline had carried 385 passengers home from Tokyo's Narita airport.

The national carrier has deployed Boeing 747-400 aircraft on Delhi-Tokyo route, instead of regular Boeing 777-300 plane, to accommodate and facilitate more Indians wanting to return from Japan.

We have also extended the deployment of Boeing 747 till March 21, instead of March 19 as decided earlier, the official said.

With more Indians wanting to leave Japan, currently struggling to avert a meltdown at some of its nuclear installations following a massive earthquake and giant tsunami waves devastating Sendei, Air India had deployed the 423-seater Boeing 747 to bring more people, from March 16.

Earlier, Air India was operating only four flights in a week. Flight AI–306 leaves Delhi at 2300 hours and reaches Narita (Tokyo) at 0950 hours (local time) the next day. On its return leg, flight AI–307 leaves Narita at 1130 hours (local time) and arrive in Delhi at 1800 hours.

"These flights are in addition to our scheduled operations to Osaka three times a week," an Air India spokesperson said, adding those desirous of returning to India on these flights may contact the airline's offices in Japan for reservations, facilitation and assistance.

Air India has also decided to waive charges for re-booking, cancellations and refunds on all types of tickets for travel from and to Japan till March 31.

The national carrier also carried more than 25 tonnes of relief material, including two consignments each of 10,000 high-quality blankets sent by the Government of India, to Japan on its two flights on March 15 and 16.

Meanwhile, only 550 people, arriving from Japan, have taken radiation check tests at the IGI airport.

"Around 550 people have undergone gama radiation tests at the counters of National Disaster Management Authority at the IGI airport," airport sources said.

Japan was hit by a massive earthquake on March 11, triggering giant tsunami waves that damaged its nuclear installation and is currently struggling to avert a meltdown.