Photo taken on March 28, 2020 shows a flight of Qatar Airways arriving for evacuating the stranded French and German tourists in Kathmandu, Nepal. German government has arranged flights for mainly German tourists and also French tourists who have been stranded in Nepal. Various countries have started to evacuate and repatriate their nationals on chartered flights from Nepal after the Himalayan country imposed nationwide lockdown suspending all domestic and international flights including surface travels, Nepali officials said. Nepali government has imposed the weeklong lockdown starting from Tuesday to prevent the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, leaving many foreign tourists stranded in different trekking and travel spots including Lukla, Bardiya and Pokhara. (Xinhua/Sunil Sharma)
KATHMANDU, March 27 (Xinhua) -- Various countries have started to evacuate and repatriate their nationals on chartered flights from Nepal after the Himalayan country imposed nationwide lockdown suspending all domestic and international flights including surface travels, Nepali officials said.
Nepali government has imposed the weeklong lockdown starting from Tuesday to prevent the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, leaving many foreign tourists stranded in different trekking and travel spots including Lukla, Bardiya and Pokhara.
Nepal has so far reported four cases of infections with the novel coronavirus.
"On Friday, at the initiative of German embassy in Nepal, 307 Europeans including three children left Nepal on a chartered flight of Qatar Airways from Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu," Devendra K.C, general manager at the TIA told Xinhua.
Nepali government had approved the chartered flights from Kathmandu to Doha, Qatar from where they could reach their destinations, according to Suresh Acharya, joint secretary at the Nepal's Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation.
"Under the initiative of German embassy, another chartered plane of Qatar Airways is scheduled to expatriate Europeans on Saturday too," Acharya told Xinhua on Friday. He said that the French embassy has also got permission to expatriate Europeans.
According to Acharya, other countries including South Korea, Australia, Britain and the United States have also requested to evacuate their nationals from Nepal.
Besides expatriating their nationals, Kathmandu-based embassies of various countries have also sent request to the Nepali government to evacuate their nationals who have stranded in different locations of Nepal after the lockdown was imposed.
"On Friday, several foreigners were evacuated from Pokhara, Lukla and Bardiya on half dozen chartered flights," said Acharya. "Several foreigners are scheduled to be evacuated on Saturday too with more than 15 domestic chartered flights have been approved."
He said that only the foreigners have been allowed to be evacuated from different parts of Nepal. More than half dozen foreign embassies in Nepal have sent request to the Nepali government seeking permission to evacuate their nationals from different parts of the Himalayan country including tourism destinations.
As per letter sent by the Nepal's Foreign Ministry to the Home Ministry and Tourism Ministry, a copy of which is available with Xinhua, embassies of Malaysia, Germany, Australia, Switzerland, Russia, Britain, South Africa have sought permission to evacuate their and other countries' nationals from different parts of Nepal.
But, the Nepali government authorities said that they have not exact data of how many foreigners have been stranded in Nepal.
Dhananjaya Regmi, chief executive officer of Nepal Tourism Board, main tourism promotion body of the Himalayan country, told Xinhua on Friday that the board had so far rescued 227 foreigners in the past couple of days.
"Some foreign tourists have returned back to capital Kathmandu as per the coordination of foreign embassies here while some have been staying in different hotels and in self quarantine."
Sarita Lama, general secretary at Trekking Agencies' Association of Nepal, a grouping of trekking agencies, told Xinhua that the travel trade entrepreneurs have created a new online platform 'strandedinnepal.com' where foreign tourists have been asked to notify about them to remain in touch with the tourism entrepreneurs and the embassies of concerned countries.