The situation in Yemen remained grim on Sunday, but India fired on all cylinders to keeps its citizens out of harm’s way.
The evacuation effort gathered momentum, with a naval warship ferrying 441 evacuees — including 176 foreigners — to Djibouti and special Air India flights flying 488 Indians out of the Yemeni capital Sana’a. More than 650 Indians were rescued on Sunday. Another warship is expected to reach Djibouti on Monday with 203 evacuees.
A no-fly zone enforced in Yemeni airspace by international coalition has made it difficult to evacuate Indians by air, officials said, adding India has been requesting Saudi Arabia to allow aerial sorties to Saana on daily basis.
An external affairs ministry spokesperson on Sunday described the evacuation from Sana’a — carried out in three Air India flights — as the “largest evacuation” so far.
The evacuees have been flown to Djibouti.
Naval destroyer INS Mumbai reached Djibouti on Sunday with 441 evacuees who boarded the warship off Aden on Saturday in extremely hostile conditions.
Having disembarked the evacuees in Djibouti, the destroyer is preparing for another rescue mission on the Yemeni west coast.
"INS Sumitra is expected to reach Djibouti tomorrow noon. Situation in the area remains grim and as per last reports. All Indians have been evacuated from the Mukallah area," a Navy official said.
Official sources said the evacuation operation was going on notwithstanding the deteriorating situation across Yemen.
"We hope to complete the evacuation operation in the next few days," they said.
The INS Sumitra, an offshore patrol vessel on Sunday completed the evacuation of 203 people, including 21 foreigners, from Ash Shihr and is expected to reach Djibouti on Monday.
Counting the evacuees being brought back by the vessel, India has rescued close to 2,300 of its citizens.
The Indian nationals who have reached Djibouti are expected to be flown to the country in two special C-17 Globemaster III planes operated by the Indian Air Force.
Sources said the number of Indians across Yemen was around 5,000 out of which 1,000 were women married to Yemeni nationals. The number of Indians in Saana would be around 3,000 while around 554 were in Aden and 298 were in offshore oil fields.