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Aussie cricket star begs for charter flight to send him and Pat Cummins and Steve Smith home

An Australian cricket star stranded in Covid-ravaged India has begged for a charter flight back home after the federal government banned all flights from the South Asian nation.

Batsman Chris Lynn urged Cricket Australia to charter the flight after the Indian Premier League finishes, in a plea made before the government’s announcement was made official on Tuesday.

Cricket Australia had asked players a day earlier about their health and travel plans amid the mounting Covid outbreak in India.   

‘I texted back that as Cricket Australia make 10 per cent of every IPL contract, was there a chance we could spend that money this year on a charter flight once the tournament is over?,’ Lynn, who plays for the Mumbai Indians, told News Corp.

‘I know there are people worse off than us. But we are going from a really tight bubble and are getting vaccinated next week so hopefully the government will let us get home on a private charter.’

Lynn insisted the players were not ‘asking for shortcuts’ and acknowledged ‘we signed up knowing the risks’ but said ‘it would be great to get home’ once the Indian Premier League finished.  

Australian cricket player Chris Lynn (pictured with girlfriend Karlie Armansin) has requested a charter flight out of India 

Steve Smith has been playing for the Delhi Capitals. He is pictured on an internal flight between games

Steve Smith has been playing for the Delhi Capitals. He is pictured on an internal flight between games

David Warner (right) Steve Smith and Pat Cummins are among several of Australia's biggest cricket stars stranded in India. Warner is pictured with New Zealand star Kane Williamson on a previous flight

David Warner (right) Steve Smith and Pat Cummins are among several of Australia’s biggest cricket stars stranded in India. Warner is pictured with New Zealand star Kane Williamson on a previous flight

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Lynn is one of 17 Australian cricket stars including test players David Warner, Steve Smith and Pat Cummins left behind in India. 

But Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the cricket players will not jump the queue, even when repatriation flights from India recommence.  

‘They’ve travelled their privately under their own arrangements. This wasn’t part of an Australian tour,’ Mr Morrison said of the cricket players.

‘And they’re under their own resources and they’ll be using those resources, I’m sure, to see them return to Australia in accordance with our own arrangements.’

The Indian Premier League group stage ends on May 23, with the final to be held on May 30. 

The 17 Australian cricketers are playing in the Indian Premier League, and are joined by coaches Ricky Ponting and Simon Katich and commentators Brett Lee, Matthew Hayden and Michael Slater. 

Both Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association are monitoring the situation, with both organisations in constant contact with players in case an emergency evacuation is required.

As it stands, players organise their own flights out of India given the tournament does not involve Australian cricket authorities and is held during players’ holiday period.

Australian Test vice-captain Pat Cummins (pictured with partner Becky Boston) donated $50,000 to India's Covid crisis

Australian Test vice-captain Pat Cummins (pictured with partner Becky Boston) donated $50,000 to India’s Covid crisis

Ricky Ponting, who is in India as coach of the Delhi Capitals, described the situation as 'grim'

Ricky Ponting, who is in India as coach of the Delhi Capitals, described the situation as ‘grim’

On signing a no-objection certificate with CA to play in the tournament, players were told there would not be chartered flights home – but they could organise a private plane. 

Ricky Ponting, who is coach of the Delhi Capitals, described the situation on the ground as ‘grim’. 

‘This IPL, probably more than any other, has become more about what’s happening on the outside than what’s happening here. We right now are probably the safest people in the country being in the bubbles that we are in,’ Ponting said. 

‘We will just keep our fingers crossed and hope people remain safe. The players are taking the best care of their families where they can from the outside, and we look after what we can do here.’ 

David Warner (pictured with wife Candice) is among Australia's cricket stars stranded in India

David Warner (pictured with wife Candice) is among Australia’s cricket stars stranded in India

A man runs past the burning funeral pyres of those who died from coronavirus during a mass cremation in New Delhi

A man runs past the burning funeral pyres of those who died from coronavirus during a mass cremation in New Delhi

Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson became the first Australians to leave the IPL since India’s Covid crisis worsened.

Tye was hastily flown out of India on Sunday night after requesting a release from the Rajasthan Royals on personal grounds.

On Monday, Royal Challengers Bangalore announced that leg-spinner Zampa and paceman Richardson had also been given permission to return home for personal reasons.

West Australian Tye was able to fly to Doha, before getting a connecting flight to Australia to start two weeks in quarantine.

His decision is understood to have had more to do with bubble fatigue, after having lived in hubs virtually uninterrupted since Australia’s trip to England last August.  

Plane passengers remove their PPE kit and put it in a dustbin, when entering the Maharaja Bir Bikram Airport in Agartala, India

Plane passengers remove their PPE kit and put it in a dustbin, when entering the Maharaja Bir Bikram Airport in Agartala, India

Relatives and municipal workers prepare to bury the body of a person who died of COVID-19 in Gauhati, India, on Sunday. India's morgues ran out of stretchers and patients were seen wandering the streets in search of hospital beds

Relatives and municipal workers prepare to bury the body of a person who died of COVID-19 in Gauhati, India, on Sunday. India’s morgues ran out of stretchers and patients were seen wandering the streets in search of hospital beds 

The IPL is continuing in a Covid-safe bubble but Australian Daniel Sams caught the virus on arrival in India.

Cummins, Australia’s Test vice-captain, donated $50,000 to go towards more oxygen supplies for India’s hospitals. 

The star fast bowler encouraged other IPL cricketers to help out in India’s desperate fight against coronavirus. 

‘At times like this it is easy to feel helpless. I’ve certainly felt that of late,’ Cummins wrote on social media.

‘But I hope by making this public appeal we can all channel our emotions into action that will bring light into people’s lives. I know my donation isn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but I hope it will make a difference to someone.’

Cummins noted there was quite a bit of discussion about whether it was appropriate to continue playing the IPL as the crisis deepens. 

In this aerial picture taken on April 26, 2021, burning pyres of victims who lost their lives due to the Covid-19 coronavirus are seen at a cremation ground in New Delhi

In this aerial picture taken on April 26, 2021, burning pyres of victims who lost their lives due to the Covid-19 coronavirus are seen at a cremation ground in New Delhi

The Indian Government believed the IPL provided some welcome enjoyment for the people at a difficult time. 

As many as 9,000 Australians have been stranded in India by the government’s ban on flights from the nation until May 15.

Mr Morrison suspended all direct commercial flights and chartered repatriation flights on Tuesday afternoon as India suffers a huge surge in cases and deaths.  

He said eight planned chartered flights to the Northern Territory will be delayed until after mid-May and commercial flights may remain banned beyond then.

Stranded Aussies will not even be able to book flights via a third country, with major air hubs Singapore, Malaysia and Qatar also banning travel. 

They may be stuck for some time because the resumption of chartered flights – which are expected to be wildly oversubscribed – will prioritise vulnerable Australians. 

Infections in the past 24 hours rose to 352,991, with overcrowded hospitals in Delhi and elsewhere turning away patients after running out of supplies of medical oxygen and beds

Infections in the past 24 hours rose to 352,991, with overcrowded hospitals in Delhi and elsewhere turning away patients after running out of supplies of medical oxygen and beds

The ban came after India suffered 2,812 Covid deaths and 352,991 cases on Monday, breaking the world record for daily cases for the fifth day in a row.

Mr Morrison said the ban was required because of the sharp ‘jump’ in positive cases entering Australia’s quarantine system. 

He said 95 per cent of cases in the federal quarantine facility near Darwin were from India.

‘(Medical) advice is we need to slow that pace significantly over the next few weeks to ensure that we can maintain the health of people in that facility,’ he said. 

Mr Morrison insisted he was not abandoning Australians because there were plans in place for repatriation flights to restart in three weeks’ time.

‘We don’t think the answer is to forsake those Australians in India and just shut them off, as some have suggested. We will resume the repatriation flights from India,’ he said.  

People stand in a queue to receive free food being distributed by a Hindu voluntary organisation amid Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic in Hyderabad

People stand in a queue to receive free food being distributed by a Hindu voluntary organisation amid Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic in Hyderabad

The Prime Minister has been under pressure from some state premiers to halt all flights to protect the hotel quarantine system, which faltered last week prompting a three-day lockdown of Perth over the weekend.

Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan demanded the federal government use defence bases and migration detention facilities instead of hotels.

But Mr Morrison said the quarantine system was working well, adding ‘99.9 per cent success rate I think is pretty good’.

‘I don’t think there’s a country in the world who would not want a quarantine system that has been working as effectively as that,’ he said. 

The Australian government last week cut repatriation and direct flight arrivals from India by 30 per cent – but many Australians urged the government to ban travel altogether.  

A patient breathes with the help of oxygen outside a parked car along the roadside amid Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic in Ghaziabad in India as the country's Covid crisis worsens

A patient breathes with the help of oxygen outside a parked car along the roadside amid Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic in Ghaziabad in India as the country’s Covid crisis worsens 

Mr Morrison’s decision on the border came after Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk wrote to him last Friday demanding that flights be halted.

‘We’re due to have a direct flight in the next week or so coming in to Brisbane. It’s a high-risk proposition,’ she told Sunrise on Tuesday morning. 

‘Other countries have done the suspension. And I know that the federal government is considering it today. And I would welcome any response that they have to do that.’ 

Ms Palaszczuk said all inbound flights from India must be halted to protect Australia from the mutant strain of the virus.

‘Everyone understands that although this is a tough measure, it’s actually a necessary measure, because what we are seeing in India is a huge second wave, some 300,000 cases a day,’ she said. 

India has set a world record for the highest number of daily Covid infections for a fourth day in the row with 349,691 infections as the country struggles to contain the surging second wave

India has set a world record for the highest number of daily Covid infections for a fourth day in the row with 349,691 infections as the country struggles to contain the surging second wave

‘It’s absolutely tragic what’s happening there, and with a mutant strain I don’t think Australia can afford that really high risk.’

Meanwhile, Australia will send oxygen tanks, gloves, masks, goggles, gowns and face shields to India as the nation grapples with its growing humanitarian disaster. 

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the situation in India was ‘heartbreaking’, adding the WHO is sending extra staff and supplies including oxygen concentrator devices. 

The death toll is so high that Indians have been forced to set up mass cremation sites to burn the dead. Hospitals are at breaking point and are running out of oxygen.      

India’s new coronavirus infections hit a record peak for a fifth day on Monday as countries including Britain, Germany and the United States pledged to send urgent medical aid to fight the crisis overwhelming its hospitals.

In this aerial picture taken on April 26, 2021, burning pyres of victims who lost their lives due to the Covid-19 coronavirus are seen at a cremation ground in New Delhi

In this aerial picture taken on April 26, 2021, burning pyres of victims who lost their lives due to the Covid-19 coronavirus are seen at a cremation ground in New Delhi

Infections in the past 24 hours rose to 352,991, with overcrowded hospitals in Delhi and elsewhere turning away patients after running out of supplies of medical oxygen and beds.  

‘Currently the hospital is in beg-and-borrow mode and it is an extreme crisis situation,’ said a spokesman of the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in the capital.

On Sunday Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged all citizens to get vaccinated and exercise caution, while hospitals and doctors have put out urgent notices saying they were unable to cope with the rush of patients.

In some of the worst-hit cities, including the capital, bodies were being burnt in makeshift facilities offering mass services.

Television channel NDTV broadcast images of three health workers in the eastern state of Bihar pulling a body along the ground on its way to cremation, as stretchers ran short.  

‘If you’ve never been to a cremation, the smell of death never leaves you,’ Vipin Narang, a political science professor at MIT in the United States, said on Twitter.

India, with a population of 1.3 billion, has a tally of 17.31 million infections and 195,123 deaths, after 2,812 deaths overnight, health ministry data showed, although health experts say the death count is probably far higher. Pictured: A graph showing new Covid-19 deaths per-day

India, with a population of 1.3 billion, has a tally of 17.31 million infections and 195,123 deaths, after 2,812 deaths overnight, health ministry data showed, although health experts say the death count is probably far higher. Pictured: A graph showing new Covid-19 deaths per-day 

Coronavirus infections in India over the last 24 hours rose to 352,991 on Monday - a record peak for a fifth day running

Coronavirus infections in India over the last 24 hours rose to 352,991 on Monday – a record peak for a fifth day running

‘My heart breaks for all my friends and family in Delhi and India going through this hell.’  

India, with a population of 1.3 billion, has a tally of 17.31 million infections and 195,123 deaths, after 2,812 deaths overnight, health ministry data showed.

But health experts say the death count is probably far higher.

Politicians, especially Modi, have faced criticism for holding rallies attended by thousands of people, packed close together in stadiums and grounds, despite a brutal second wave of infections.

Several cities have ordered curfews, while police have been deployed to enforce social distancing and mask-wearing.   

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