The C-17 Globemaster is the largest military aircraft in the Indian Air Force's inventory
India sent a military transport aircraft with a specialist medical team on board to Iran on Monday night to bring back Indians stranded in the coronavirus-hit nation.
According to the Indian Air Force, its C-17 Globemaster military aircraft left for Iran from the Hindon airbase at 8.30 pm.
"An IAF C-17 ''Globemaster'' aircraft got airborne today at 2030 hrs from Hindan airbase to airlift Indian citizens from Iran. The aircraft has a specialist medical team onboard. Indian citizens will be flown to Hindan where medical facilities including quarantine have been set up," the IAF tweeted.
The C-17 aircraft "will return to India in the early hours tomorrow morning. IAF is ensuring the required operational and medical measures are in place for an expeditious and safe return of Indian citizens from Iran", it said in another tweet.
About 2,000 Indians are living in Iran, a country that has witnessed increasing numbers of coronavirus cases in the last few days.
According to latest reports, 237 people have died of the coronavirus infection in Iran while the number of positive cases stands at around 7,000.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Monday made a surprise visit to Kashmir and met parents of students stranded in coronavirus-hit Iran as well as tourism industry representatives, assuring both groups that the government was seized of their problems and all would be well.
Mr Jaishankar, whose visit was kept under a veil of secrecy, drove straight from the airport to the Kashmir International Convention complex, where around 100 parents of students stranded in Iran had gathered.
It is the second such evacuation by the C-17 Globemaster in the last two weeks.
On February 27, 76 Indians and 36 foreign nationals were brought back from the Chinese city of Wuhan by the aircraft of the Indian Air Force.
The aircraft had also taken a consignment of medical supplies to China to help it deal with the crisis.
The C-17 Globemaster is the largest military aircraft in the Indian Air Force's inventory. The plane can carry large combat equipment, troops and humanitarian aid across long distances in all weather conditions.
Three days ago, a Mahan airline plane brought swab samples of 300 Indians from Iran to India.
The Union Health Ministry was initially considering setting up a laboratory in Iran to test Indians living in the country for coronavirus. However, the plan was shelved due to logistical issues.
India has so far reported 43 coronavirus cases. According to reports, the number of cases of novel coronavirus worldwide has crossed 1,10,000 in 100 countries and territories with more than 3,800 dead.