Evacuation of Malaysians in Italy delayed after plane refused entry

Eighty-two Malaysians have registered with the Malaysian embassy in Rome to come home. (AP pic)

PETALING JAYA: The government’s effort to bring home 82 Malaysians stranded in Italy has been delayed after authorities there barred all planes from landing in the country, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Kamaruddin Jaffar said.

He said the initial plan was for the Malaysians, who had registered with the embassy in Rome, to arrive in Kuala Lumpur at 6.10am on Monday.

Kamaruddin, who is leading the ministry’s Covid-19 taskforce, said the Italian Civil Aviation Authority had revoked the landing approvals for all flights into the country, including the chartered flight for the Malaysians.

He told a press conference Wisma Putra was discussing with the Italian government to give special permission to Malaysia to continue with the repatriation effort.

Meanwhile, 46 Malaysians stranded in Iran will be brought home tomorrow on a chartered flight and are expected to arrive at 6.10am along with nine Indonesian and Singapore nationals.

Kamaruddin said the minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, had agreed to help Indonesia and Singapore bring home their citizens from Iran following discussions with his respective counterparts, Ibu Retno Marsudi and Vivian Balakrishnan.

Kamaruddin said all those returning would be quarantined for 14 days.

“The quarantine process is important to monitor their health as well as providing any necessary treatment,” he said.

Previously, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had said Putrajaya had decided to bring all Malaysians stranded in Italy and Iran home because of the spread of Covid-19 in both countries.