India on Sunday continued evacuating its citizens from Yemen on war-footing, with 806 of its nationals headed for home onboard three flights.
On Sunday, India evacuated 670 more nationals, including 488 from Sanaa by three Air India flights, taking the total number of Indians rescued from war-ravaged Yemen to nearly 2,300.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj thanked Air India for its massive effort in operation ‘Raahat’ to pull out Indians trapped in several parts of Yemen amid raging fighting.
Sushma Swaraj tweeted: “We shall evacuate all Indian nationals from Yemen. Nobody will be left behind for want of travel documents.”
Sushma Swaraj said all Indian nationals have been evacuated from the southern Yemeni port of Aden. “The evacuation from Aden is complete – thanks to Indian Navy.”
External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin in a latest tweet, said: “Evacuation from Yemen at full pace – 806 heading home today.”
He said that two C-17 Globemaster transport planes of the Indian Air Force were set to land at Mumbai – one carrying 225 passengers and another ferrying 229 passengers to land at a quarter past midnight.
An Air India flight would reach Kochi with 352 passengers at a quarter past midnight, he said.
“Air India conducted three successful flights out of Sanaa and evacuated 488 Indians. It was the largest evacuation so far,” the Spokesperson in External Affairs Ministry, Syed Akbaruddin said.
He further said that 203 people were evacuated from Ash Shihr– 182 Indians and the rest from seven other countries– by Navy vessel INS Sumitra.
Earlier, Swaraj had also tweeted that in a humanitarian gesture Indian Navy evacuated three Pakistani nationals from Al Hodeida by INS Sumitra.
“Pakistan also brought 11 Indians from Al Mukallah… Yesterday, Indian Coast Guard saved 10 Pakistani crew members of Omani warship,” she said in her tweets.
INS Sumitra could not make a stop in Al Mukallah port yesterday and hence it was diverted to the nearest port which was Ash Shihr port, about 25 kms east Northeast of Al Mukallah.
Al Mukallah is the main sea port and capital of the Hadhramaut coastal region in Yemen.
The Indians from the fallen city were moved to Ash Shihr port from where they were transferred to the Navy vessel using smaller boats under Operation Raahat, defence sources said adding that the conditions were difficult.
Due to the security situation, INS Sumitra had anchored about three kilometres outside the port.
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.
A no-fly zone enforced in Yemeni airspace by international coalition has made it difficult to evacuate Indians by air, they said, adding India has been requesting Saudi Arabia to allow aerial sorties to Saana on daily basis.
In a series of tweets, Sushma Swaraj said “My colleague General V.K.Singh who is shuttling between Sanaa and Djibouti is sparing no effort in accomplishing this difficult task.”
“Our Officers in Djibouti are tirelessly working and coordinating this massive effort.”
“Our Embassy in Yemen is working round the clock in war torn Yemen.”
“INS Tarkash has escorted our passenger ships which have reached Djibouti this afternoon.”
The 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.
Later, Swaraj further said that Indian liners Kavarati and Corals with a total capacity of 1100 passengers have reached Djibouti for evacuation of Indian nationals.
She also talked about money being given by Kerala and Maharashtra govts to each passenger arriving in Kochi and Mumbai respectively.
More Keralites to reach home in coming days
External Affairs Ministry has informed Kerala that the stranded Indians who left in ship from Aden and Kukalla ports and via Sana’s airport would reach Djibouti on Sunday.
Aircraft carrying them would reach India tonight, Minister for Non-Resident-Keralites Affairs K C Joseph said in a statement.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has sought urgent intervention of the Indian Embassy for getting the passports of some employees withheld by hospitals and bring them home, Joseph said.
Joseph also asked for steps to all Indians who want to return whether or not they had passports or other travel documents.
Meanwhile, a high level meeting to be chaired by Chandy would be held in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday to discuss the steps to be taken to rescue others who were stranded in Yemen.
So far, more than 460 Keralites have returned home from Yemen after the civil war broke out in that country. According to an estimate out of the nearly 4,000 Indians, majority were from Kerala.