11:52 am - Saturday November 7, 2015

Sailing away from troubles: Navy evacuates 348 Indians stranded in war-torn Yemen

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New Delhi: Indian Navy Tuesday night evacuated 348 Indians from strife-torn Yemen.

INS Sumitra rescued the Indian nationals after New Delhi got permission to dock its ship at the Aden harbour for the evacuation of its citizens from the sea port city as the government launched a massive air and sea evacuation operation for its over 4,000 nationals in war-torn Yemen.

The Indian Navy ship departed last night for Djibouti with first batch of Indians evacuated from Yemen by sea. It is scheduled to reach Djibouti today morning.

The news was confirmed by the External Affairs Ministry through its Twitter account.The evacuation operation took place amid the escalating violence in Yemen. Saudi-led coalition war planes have struck pro-Iranian rebels in Yemen with the Islamic kingdom threatening to send ground troops which could potentially initiate a broader sectarian conflict in the Middle East.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had earlier stated that the government was doing everything to evacuate Indian nationals from Yemen at the earliest.

Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh is in Djibouti, a country neighbouring Yemen, to oversee the evacuation exercise christened ‘Operation Raahat’ under which a total of five ships and four aircraft have been deployed.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a telephonic 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 also been pressed into service besides two other passenger ships while the Indian Air Force has put on stand-by two C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft.

Air India has also 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.

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 Arabian Sea on April 2 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 due to want of clearance from the authorities.​

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