Air India’s second and third evacuation flights carrying over 500 Indian nationals stuck in Ukraine landed at the Delhi airport on Sunday.

India began the evacuation of its stranded citizens amid the Russian military offensive in Ukraine on Saturday, with the first evacuation flight, AI1944, bringing back 219 people from Bucharest to Mumbai in the evening. 

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Speaking to news agency ANI, students shared their experiences from Ukraine and how the situation is unfurling in the country.

“The situation is bad at many places in Ukraine. Cities are being bombed, people have taken up arms to save their country. Stockpiling had begun where I was staying,” a student said.

“Many students are staying in bunkers due to attacks against Ukraine. The situation is difficult. Thanks to govt that they evacuated us on time,” another returnee said upon arrival in Delhi.

For one student who had been staying near the Romania border, the situation was marginally better. “Students are in panic but the situation was much better where we were staying (near the Romania border) in comparison to other areas of Ukraine,” he told ANI. 

Some were also concerned about their friends stuck in Ukraine who had not yet been able to flee. “I am happy but my friends are stuck there. The situation there is getting worse,” said Shreya after arriving at Bengaluru airport.

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For students stuck in Ukraine, the fight to survival is becoming tougher by the day.

Speaking to NDTV, Lakshmy, a student at the Kharkiv National Medical University, had said, “We are very stressed. It is impossible for us to travel to the west border of Ukraine to cross over to neighbouring countries like Romania. It’s around 2,000 km away from us. We can’t even go to a nearby supermarket, let alone travel to the western border. We can hear bombing, shelling throughout the day. We’ve not even been told how to move.”

Lakshmy had been staying in a makeshift bunker in the basement of a building with other students from her university. 

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“All we know is we have to stay in these bunkers. We don’t know how long we can survive like this. Food, water everything is running out. We are eating bananas and biscuits. With the first explosion itself, we lost all Wi-Fi connectivity. Now, we are talking to our families with the internet through our SIM cards. Who knows how long this will last?” Nandan, a third-year student living in Kharkiv, told NDTV.

India is trying to evacuate its nationals through Ukraine’s land borders with Hungary, Poland, Slovakia after the Ukrainian government closed the country’s airspace following the Russian military offensive.

Air India’s third evacuation flight, AI1940, which will depart from Hungarian capital Budapest, is also scheduled to return with evacuees to Delhi on Sunday, they said.