New Delhi: Around 350 stranded Indians were evacuated from strife-torn Yemen’s Aden city on an Indian Naval ship on Tuesday that took them to Djibouti, a country neighbouring Yemen and across the Red Sea.
The evacuation operation took place late at night, amid the escalating violence in Yemen.
“INS Sumitra has left the Aden harbour and around 350 Indians embarked on the ship,” defence sources said. The Indian Navy ship departed is scheduled to reach Djibouti this morning.
Evacuation took place after India on Tuesday got permission to dock its ship at the Aden harbour as the government launched a massive air and sea evacuation operation to rescue over 4,000 of its nationals who are in Yemen.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a phone conversation with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdul aziz Al Saud late Monday evening.
The Saudi Arabian King recalled the strong and close relations between India and Saudi Arabia and assured Prime Minister of his full attention to the safety of Indians in Yemen and all possible assistance for their early and safe evacuation.
Two warships have been pressed into service besides two passenger ships while the Indian Air Force has put two C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft on stand-by.
Air India has also stationed two 180-seater Airbus A320 planes in Muscat for the evacuation of Indians from Yemen’s capital Sanaa to Djibouti whenever clearance is given by the concerned authorities.
NDTV reported that for the next few days, INS Sumitra – which will reach Djibouti around noon Indian time on Wednesday – will be the only ship to ferry people.
The 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 the Arabian Sea on 2 April and proceed as a composite group to Djibouti.
The two 180-seater aircraft dispatched by Air India yesterday remain stuck in the Oman capital Muscat however, due to want of clearance from the authorities.
Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh headed for Djibouti to oversee the evacuation exercise christened ‘Operation Raahat’. Five diplomats are also stationed there to help.
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.
With inputs from PTI