Beijing: India, on Saturday, thanked the Chinese government for facilitating a special flight to evacuate Indians from coronavirus-hit Wuhan.

Earlier, a special Air India flight carrying 324 Indians on board took off in the wee hours of Saturday from Wuhan which has emerged as the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.

Two flights were deployed to transport the evacuees to India. While one flight has already landed another, a Boeing 747 Jumbo aircraft, will bring 324 people, mostly students.

Taking to Twitter, the Indian embassy said, "An Air India flight carrying 324 Indian nationals from the coronavirus hit Hubei Province of China took off from Wuhan in the early hours of Feb 1. The majority of the passengers were Indian students. We sincerely thank the Chinese government for facilitating this flight."

The embassy said that the Indian government is planning for another flight to evacuate the remaining Indian nationals and asked its citizens in Hubei to avail flight for India.

"We urge all Indian citizens from Hubei who intend to avail this flight for India and not yet contacted the Embassy, to urgently call the hotlines (+8618610952903 and +8618612083629) or dedicated email ID helpdesk.beijing@mea.gov.in before 0800 hours on February 1, 2020," the embassy tweeted yesterday.

"We look forward to operating another flight to evacuate remaining Indian nationals, who have consented to leave Hubei Province for the time being," it said in a subsequent tweet.

Meanwhile, Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Weidong said on Friday that China is ready to cooperate with India in strengthening measures towards preventing the spread of the new strain of deadly coronavirus.

"China is ready to cooperate with India to respond to the outbreak and work together to prevent and control the epidemic. We also hope India will continue to give understanding and support to China's efforts in this regard," he said in an exclusive interview to ANI. The Ambassador's statement came in response to a question on the evacuation of Indian nationals from China.

He said China has done a lot of work to ensure the health and safety of Indian nationals in China.

The first case of coronavirus was reported in December. Since then, the virus has spread rapidly claiming 259 lives in China alone.

The cases have been reported in several parts of the world including India.

In order to prevent the further spread of the virus, Chinese authorities put on lockdown, more than a dozen cities, affecting the movement of 56 million people. 

With ANI Inputs