Saturday, March 21, 2020

120 Indian students stuck in Philippines await govt help

Madurai: As many as 120 Indian students pursuing medicine (MD) in four colleges in Philippines who spent three days at the Manila airport and were forced to return to their hostels, are waiting for the Indian government’s help to be repatriated. The students who reached the airport on March 17 came to know that their tickets were cancelled just before they were to board their flight on March 18.
They stayed in the Manila airport till March 20 before being forced to leave. The students from Lyceum Northwestern University in Dagupan, AMA College in Makatie, University of Perpetual in Las Pinas and PLT College in Bayombong, include 25 from Tamil Nadu. The others hail from Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Telangana, Gujarat and Rajasthan.

“Following a spurt in Covid-19 cases Philippines was given level 3 alert, and the government announced closure of all the cities on March 16. Educational institutions and work places were closed for 35 days. We were given an option to stay in the hostels but were warned that there could be difficulty in serving food if the shops are closed,” said R Godwin Leo, 19, from Vattam in Kanyakumari district.

Godwin, who is studying in the Lyceum Northwestern University said that he and other students booked their flight tickets on March 17. “It is an eight-hour journey by road to cover the 400km distance to the Manila airport. Twenty-five students from my college reached the airport in the evening in a hired van. We completed the immigration formalities and were collecting the boarding passes when trouble began,” he said.

Moments before they could board the flight they were informed by the Air Asia staff that their tickets have been cancelled and that India will not be permitting flights from the Philippines and many other countries. The students said they stayed in the airport with the hope of getting help from the Indian embassy to fly home. They said the embassy officials reached them on March 18 and assured to repatriate them.
21/03/20 MK Ananth/Times of India
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