Seven Indians missing after air strikes on Yemeni port

Out of 20 Indians, 13 are accounted for and seven are still missing after Saudi-led airstrikes on Yemeni port

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Smoke billows from the site of Saudi-led air strikes on al-Dailami air base in Yemen's capital Sanaa September 6, 2015.

Seven out of 20 Indians are missing in Yemen after Saudi-led air strikes on a Yemeni port on Tuesday, contradicting earlier reports that all 20 had died.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs said reports regarding the death of 20 Indians in Yemen are infact false. "Out of 20 crew members, 13 are alive and 7 are reported to be missing," Vikas Swarup, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson said.

Local fishermen had told Reuters that at least 20 Indian nationals died in Saudi-led air strikes on fuel smugglers at a Yemeni port on Tuesday.

"We've seen media reports about the death of Indian nationals in Yemen. The Indian embassy in Djibouti is in touch with local contacts. We have ascertained that two boats came under aerial attack, boats were carrying a total of 20 Indian crew members," Swarup said.

No other information is currently available from the Indian side regarding the identity of the victims.

Initial reports regarding the incident, perpetrated by countless media outlets, alleged that 20 Indian nationals were killed in air strikes by Saudi-led forces on fuel smuggler at Hodeidah Port in Yemen.

Two boats were allegedly hit in the air strikes at al Khokha near Hodeidah Port.

The Saudi-led coalition battling the Iranian backed Houthi militias since last March, have stepped up its operations in the Yemeni capital after Houthi bombardment killed at least 60 Saudi, Bahraini and United Arab Emirates soldiers at a military camp east of Sanaa.

Houthi positions in the city centre of Yemeni capital, Sanaa were pounded by Saudi-led coalition warplanes on Tuesday, which left 10 people dead including seven civilians, according to AFP.

Targets in the attacks included the police academy and the headquarters of the security services, witnesses said. Houthi leaders residences in Sana'a were also targeted, witnesses informed.

Medical authorities estimate at least seven civilians and three guards of a leading Houthi member have been killed in the strikes

On the other hand, rebel-controlled, claims15 casualties and 77 injured.

More foreign troops are reported to be arriving to Yemen, in order to intensify the campaign against Houthi forces.

Qatar has sent around 1,000 ground troops to the war torn country.

Al Jazeera news channel reported Qatar’s contribution to the Saudi-led operations in Yemen, on Monday.

1,000 Qatari soldiers, backed by 200 armoured vehicles and 30 Apache helicopters had been deployed, according to Al Jazeera. However, the Qatari foreign ministry made no immediate comment on the report.

Military vehicles carrying Gulf Arab soldiers arrive at Yemen's northern province of Marib September 8, 2015.

Saudi Arabia led the operations in Yemen, as it sees Houthis as proxies for Iran. The Kingdom accuses Iran of trying to spread its influence into Arab states including Syria and Yemen.

Following a call from Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi to “save Yemen” from Houthi aggression, Saudi-led military operations started in late March.

Humanitarian crises in Yemen

The UN has declared the situation in Yemen to be a level-three humanitarian emergency, the highest on its scale, after about 80 percent of the country’s population fell into dire need of humanitarian aid.

Twenty million people in the country are in need of aid, 13 million are facing food shortages and 9.4 million are having difficulties accessing drinking water.

A ship carrying enough UN aid to feed 180,000 people for a month docked at the Yemeni port of Aden last month, having previously being prevented from doing so for almost four weeks, World Food Programme spokesman Peter Smerdon said.

"It's the first WFP chartered ship to berth in the port since the conflict erupted in late March," Smerdon said. "We have additional ships chartered which are on standby heading towards Aden carrying more food and fuel."

TRTWorld and agencies