70 Indian sailors stuck in Yemen, govt chalks out rescue plan

  • PTI, New Delhi/Ahmedabad
  • Updated: Sep 14, 2015 01:05 IST
A fighter loyal to Yemen's exiled President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi checks his mobile as he stands guard at a military site near the country's third-largest city Taez on August 25, 2015. (AFP Photo)

India said on Sunday it was taking steps to ensure the safe evacuation of its nationals from Yemen after a sailors' group claimed that 70 seamen from Gujarat were stranded in the war-ravaged county.

"Our Mission in Yemen (Camp Office in Djibouti) is aware of the situation and taking steps to ensure safe evacuation of Indians," external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in Delhi.

Nearly 70 sailors from the coastal village of Mandavi in Kutch and from Jodiya and Salaya villages of Jamnagar were stuck for over 15 days now at Khokha port in Yemen where they had gone to deliver cargo in five boats, a sailors' group in Gujarat said, appealing to the government to rescue them.

Less after six Indians, most of them from Gujarat, were killed when their boat came under Saudi-led air strikes in the Arab country, which is reeling due to a civil war. Shia Houthi rebels and supporters of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh are fighting against forces loyal to President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

Read: 13 of 20 Indians reported killed in Yemen air strikes alive: MEA

"About 70 Gujarati sailors along with five vessels are stranded in Yemen for around 15 days and they now need the government's help for their rescue," Vahanvatta Association of Kutch and Mandavi president Haji Juneja told PTI.

"I yesterday (Saturday) wrote to the ministry of external affairs urging them to save our sailors or shift them to a safer place," he said.

"The sailors are in a pitiable condition as some forces have been bombarding them. They escaped death last night when some force, either of the insurgents or the Saudi coalition, began an attack with rocket launchers," he said.

Meanwhile, one of the stranded sailors, identified as Sikandar from Mandavi village, sent an audio message in which he said that they came under a bomb attack Saturday night.

"I am an Indian. My name is Sikandar. We are at Khokha port. They have lobbed three rockets and we somehow managed to save ourselves. We are running here and there to save ourselves," Sikandar said in the message.

"We are 70 Indians stranded here along with five ships. They have been bombarding us with warplanes. Please help us. We are Indians. We are in great difficulty. They will kill us. Please save us," he said.

Yemen has been facing a civil war-like situation with Shiite rebels clashing with pro-government forces. United Nations estimates that more than 4,500 people have been killed in the conflict since March.

The external affairs ministry had said on Friday that six Indians were killed after their boat came under Saudi-led air strikes in Yemen on September 8.

The deceased were among seven Indian nationals who were initially reported missing when two boats, 'Mustafa' and 'Asmar' carrying a total of 21 Indian nationals came under aerial attack.

The ministry had said that of the remaining 15 Indians, 14 were safe in Hodeidah while one person was still missing.

Read: Indians reach home from war-torn Yemen with tales of bombs and bullets

Expats stranded, cloud on trade: How Yemen crisis may affect India

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