Yemen: Indian Navy continues evacuation despite war-like conditions

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Apr 05, 2015 01:26 IST

An Indian warship sent to evacuate stranded Indian nationals in Yemen was unable to enter Aden on Saturday because of heavy shelling in the southern port city, which has witnessed heavy fighting between Houthi rebels and forces loyal to President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

The guided missile destroyer INS Mumbai, one of the Indian Navy’s most powerful warships, was anchored a few kilometres from the coast and the Indians were being ferried to it by boat, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said.

“There is heavy shelling in Aden. The ship is anchored 5/6 KM off the coast. Indian nationals are being taken by boat to board the ship there,” Swaraj tweeted.

KC Joseph, the Kerala minister for diaspora, said about 200 Indians had assembled in Aden to be evacuated.

The navy too confirmed to the media that INS Mumbai was unable to enter Aden port. Officials had hired a dozen smaller vessels, each capable of carrying 30 to 35 people, to ferry the Indians to the destroyer, the navy said.

INS Mumbai will sail to Djibouti after picking up the Indians, the navy said.

The navy also said INS Sumitra, another warship involved in “Operation Rahat” to evacuate Indians from the war-torn country, was unable to rescue people from Al Mukalla port.

Map showing Aden, Djibouti and Al Mukalla ports.

Indian warships, merchant vessels and military aircraft have evacuated close to 1,300 people from Yemen over the past few days. The external affairs ministry said last week there were more than 4,100 Indians in Yemen, a majority of them nurses and paramedical staff from Kerala. Most of the Indians are in the capital Sanaa and Aden.

Over 660 Indians returned to the country in two air force planes and a special Air India flight on Friday night.

Fighters loyal to President Hadi pushed Shia Houthi rebels from central Aden on Friday after they were reinforced with weapons parachuted into their beleaguered section of the southern port city by warplanes of a Saudi-led coalition.

The setback for the Houthis came after days of advances in Aden, the last major stronghold of forces loyal to Hadi.

The Saudi-led coalition launched air strikes against the Houthis a week ago to bolster Hadi.

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