New Delhi: Air India today flew its first flight to airlift hundreds of Indians stranded in the strife-torn Yemen, soon after the government decided to evacuate its citizens amid the chaotic situation in the Gulf country. 180-seater Airbus A320 aircraft took off from Delhi at 0745 AM for Yemen's capital Sana'a via Muscat. It is likely to return from Yemen this evening.
The flight operations began after India got permission to operate flights from Sana'a for three hours a day. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj yesterday said that India has got the permission from authorities to fly from Sana'a for three hours a day.
Swaraj tweeted that India was in the process of sending a ship with a capacity of 1,500 passengers. On Saturday, as many as 80 Indians left Sana'a for Djibouti where Indian mission will assist them in returning home.
The ministry has also set up a 24-hour Control Room to monitor the situation in Yemen where all the airports have been shut down.
There are about 3,500 Indians, most of whom are nurses, in various provinces of Yemen including Sana'a. In Yemen, Shiite militiamen, also known as Huthis, and army units loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh have overrun much of the country and prompted President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee for Saudi Arabia. A Saudi-led coalition of some 10 countries began bombing Yemen on Thursday, saying it was targeting the Houthis and their allies.