New Delhi: An Indian Navy vessel, despatched to evacuate Indians from Yemen, has reached the periphery of the strife-torn country’s territorial waters but is awaiting local clearance for moving in as do two Air India planes.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Four more ships, including two warships, are also expected to reach Yemen by 4 April under the ‘Operation Raahat’ launched by the Indian government, defence sources said in New Delhi on Tuesday.

There are about 3,500 Indians, most of them nurses, in various provinces of Yemen, including in Sana’a.

An offshore patrol vessel INS Sumitra, which was diverted from its anti-piracy operations in Gulf of Aden to rescue the Indians, is just outside the territorial waters of Yemen, waiting for clearance to move in as intense firing has been reported in Aden, the sources said.

As per the plan, INS Sumitra will pick up at least 400 stranded Indians in Aden and take them to Djibouti.

Besides INS Sumitra, two destroyers of the Indian Navy –INS Mumbai and stealth frigate INS Tarkash — have been sent from Mumbai. Two merchant vessels – Kavaratti and Coral – have also been dispatched.

The four ships are to join each other in Arabian Sea on 2 April and proceed as a composite group to Djibouti.

The two 180-seater aircraft dispatched by Air India on Monday remain stuck in the Oman capital Muscat due to want of clearance from the authorities.

“The two aircraft remained stationed at Muscat for the second today. Besides, awaiting clearance for landing at the Saa’na airport, we are also awaiting for instructions from the our government as well,” Air India sources said in New Delhi.

The Indian Air Force has deployed two C-17 Globemaster planes for Yemen operations. As per the plan, they will fly into Djibouti and bring back the Indians to Mumbai and Cochin.

By the time, the four Indians ships reach Djibouti, the IAF would have carried out a number of sorties. The rest of the Indians would then board the ships and come back to the country.

“The Indian naval ships will go and evacuate the persons as well as provide anti-piracy escort duties to the various assets deployed for the operation,” Vice Chief of the Navy P Murugesan said.

Saudi-led coalition warplanes pounded Yemen’s Shiite rebels for a sixth day today, 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.

Concerned over the safety of 4,000 Indians in strife-torn Yemen, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had last night sought the help of Saudi Arabia as he held a telephonic conversation with King Salman bin Abdul aziz Al Saud.

PTI

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Indian ship in periphery of Yemen waters, awaits local clearance