Govt scrambles to ascertain Indians' death in Yemen

Govt scrambles to ascertain Indians' death in Yemen

Govt scrambles to ascertain Indians' death in Yemen

The government on Tuesday scrambled to ascertain facts after receiving reports of the death of at least 20 Indians in Yemen during an airstrike by a coalition led by Saudi Arabia.

“We are ascertaining the facts about the reports,” said Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) official spokesperson Vikas Swarup.

Senior government officials in New Delhi said Indian diplomats based in Djibouti had been asked to verify reports about death of 20 citizens of the country in an airstrike by the Saudi-led coalition at al-Khokha near Hodeidah Port of Yemen. The Indians were in a dhow which overturned probably due to the impact of the airstrike. The Embassy of India in Sana’a was shut down last April after Yemen's conflict escalated. Indian diplomats posted in New Delhi’s mission in Sana’a were relocated to Djibouti.

“We are in touch with different sources in Yemen and trying to verify the reports,” an official of the Embassy of India in Sana’a told Deccan Herald from Djibouti.

The Hodeidah Port is about 202 nautical miles away from the port of Djibouti.

Officials in New Delhi said the government would also try to confirm the nationality of the deceased, if the purported airstrike had indeed killed people.

Before shutting down the embassy in Yemen's capital, the government had deployed warships, merchant vessels and planes to evacuate 4,741 Indian citizens in all from the country in April after the conflict there reached a flashpoint and Saudi Arabia started airstrikes to support forces and militia loyal to President Hadi in their fight against rebel Houthis.

New Delhi's “Operation Rahat” was lauded around the world as Air India aircraft and Indian Navy warships also helped evacuate over 950 foreigners from Yemen's conflict zones.
Sources said some Indian citizens had opted to stay back in Yemen despite New Delhi’s advisory to leave. 

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