Around 350 stranded Indians were on Tuesday evacuated from strife-torn Yemen's Aden city on an Indian naval ship that will now take them to Djibouti, a country neighbouring Yemen and across the Red Sea.
The evacuation operation took place in the dark. "INS Sumitra has left the Aden harbour and around 350 Indians boarded the ship," defence sources said.
No Indian has been reported killed or wounded in the fighting in Yemen so far amid the Saudi-led coalition's air strikes targeting Shia Muslim fighters, called Houthis, who have overrun most of the tiny nation and forced West-backed president Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to flee.
Pro-Houthi students demonstrate against the Saudi-led air strikes on Yemen at the Sanaa University campus. (Reuters)
Tuesday's operation was carried out after India got permission to dock its ship at the Aden harbour, as the government launched a massive air and sea evacuation mission for its nationals. The rescue mission came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared his concern with Saudi ruler King Salman bin Abdul aziz Al Saud about the safety and welfare of approximately 4,000 Indian citizens in Yemen.
For the rescue efforts, two warships have been pressed into service along with two passenger ships. The Indian Air Force has put on stand-by two C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft.
Air India has stationed two 180-seater Airbus A320 planes in Muscat for evacuation of Indians from Yemen's capital Sanaa to Djibouti whenever a clearance is given by the concerned authorities.
Defence sources said four ships, including destroyer INS Mumbai and stealth frigate INS Tarkash, will reach Yemen by Saturday. Two merchant vessels - Kavaratti and Coral - have also been dispatched. The four ships are to join each other in Arabian Sea on April 2 and proceed as a composite group to Djibouti.
A tank flying the flag of the Southern separatist movement is seen in the southern Yemeni city of Aden. (AFP Photo)
Minister of state for external afairs VK Singh headed for Djibouti to oversee the evacuation exercise christened 'Operation Raahat'.
Meanwhile, Saudi-led warplanes pounded Yemen's Shiite rebels for a sixth day (on Tuesday), destroying missiles and weapons depots and for the first time using warships to bomb the rebel-held airport and eastern outskirts of the port city of Aden.