Yemen: Naval warship sails into ‘barrage of bombs’, evacuates 349 Indians

While 80 evacuees have chosen to stay in Djibouti, 179 people, mostly nurses, headed to Kochi.

By: Express News Service Written by Pranav Kulkarni | Updated: April 2, 2015 3:05:27 am
Indians in Yemen, Indians Yemen, Yemen, War in Yemen, Indian Navy Yemen, INS Sumitra (Source: Wikipedia)

INS Sumitra “sailed into barrage of bombs” to evacuate 349 Indians from Aden in strife-torn Yemen and brought them to Djibouti from where the expatriates were flown back home in two C-17 aircraft of the IAF.

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Navy’s INS Sumitra, which was deployed in the Gulf of Aden for anti-piracy mission, has become the mainstay of the evacuation efforts as a no-fly zone over Yemen, which is in the throes of a Houthi rebel uprising, continued to slowdown such operations. While two Air India A- 320 planes remained stationed in Muscat, the C- 17 aircraft flew over Ethiopia and Somalia before landing at Djibouti on Wednesday morning. Around 3,700 Indians are still in Yemen.

Meanwhile, MoS for External Affairs Ministry Gen (retd) V K Singh also reached Djibouti to oversee the evacuation operations. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted: “My colleague General V K Singh is coordinating the operations with Indian Navy and Air Force in Djibouti.”

“Ideally, the AI planes would be carrying sorties between Sana’a and Djibouti, which is about an hour’s flight. From there, they are to be flown in the IAF planes to India. So far, the AI planes are yet to land in Sana’a (after its airport was bombed on Sunday night). INS Sumitra which reached Aden on Tuesday night has so far evacuated 349 Indians,” said an official.

READ: Warship in Aden to bring back Indians from Yemen

While 80 evacuees have chosen to stay in Djibouti, 179 people, mostly nurses, headed to Kochi and 90 to Mumbai in IAF’s C- 17 aircraft. The two aircraft that left Delhi at 4 am and 6 am on Wednesday reached Djibouti at 10.30 am and 12 noon as they flew over Ethiopia and Somalia in a bid to avoid the Yemeni airspace. Sources said that permissions were taken to fly warplanes over the African nations.

INS Sumitra during trial runs (Source: Indian Navy) INS Sumitra during trial runs (Source: Indian Navy)

The evacuation operation was not easy as INS Sumitra, which reached Aden port at around 6 pm on Tuesday, kept waiting for a clearance for an hour- and- a- half amid aerial bombings. Commanded by Commander M M Mokashi, the ship “literally witnessed firefight in Yemen” skies,  a navy spokesperson said here. “The ship sailed into a barrage of bombs… the skyline lit up intermittently. It was pitch dark when the ship entered port of Aden and took the persons onboard,” the official said.

Yemen, Indians in Yemen, Indian Navy Yemen, File photo INS Sumitra during her trials. (Source: Indian Navy)

Sailing at 160 nautical miles, INS Sumitra reached Djibouti Wednesday at 10 am local time.

It will return to Aden for further evacuation, said a Navy statement.

Two passenger ships MV Kavaratti and MV Coral — accompanied by INS Mumbai and INS Tarkash in pirates infested seas — would likely reach Yemen only by the night of April 4 and evacuate 1,100 and 400 Indians, respectively.

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