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Indians in S Sudan airlifted

New Delhi, Dec. 23 (PTI): India today evacuated all its employees from South Sudan and shut down oilfields as violence threatened to escalate in the world’s youngest nation.

All 11 executives working on the Greater Nile Oil Project and Block 5A were airlifted, a top source with direct knowledge of the development said.

“The evacuation happened in two batches. All the officials have arrived in India safely,” he added.

Before departure, the last job the Indian executives did was to shut down the oilfields yesterday.

ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL), the overseas arm of state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), had deputed 11 employees at Greater Nile Oil Project and Block 5A.

The company made all arrangements to evacuate its employees as rebel forces loyal to deposed South Sudanese Vice-President Riek Machar captured Unity state where most of the oilfields that the ONGC operates are located.

OVL owns 25 per cent stake in the Greater Nile Oil Project, which produces about 40,000 barrels of oil per day, and 24.125 per cent in Block 5A, which produces 5,000 barrels of oil per day.

Fighting in South Sudan, which broke out on December 15, has already claimed over 500 lives, including Indian soldiers working as United Nations peacekeepers.

The source said rebels so far have not captured any of OVL’s oil wells but as a precaution all were shut down before officials left the country.