Kochi: India on Monday sent two passenger ships to Djibouti Port to evacuate Indians stranded in conflict-hit Yemen.
"Two passenger ships belonging to Lakshadweep administration left for Djibouti Port from Kochi this morning to evacuate Indians stranded in Yemen," Jijo Thomas, Deputy Secretary, Cochin Port Trust, told PTI.
"A total of 1200 passengers can be accommodated in two ships. It will take at least five to seven days for the ships to reach Djibouti Port," he said.
Doctors and nurses are part of a total of 150-member-crew in these ships to be escorted by Navy in the outer seas. Adequate food, medicine and water have been stored in the ships, he said.
Since MV Kavaratti and MV Corals are domestic ships, there were lot of formalities including customs and immigration and maritime related works had to be completed before their journey to international waters, he said.
All coordination activities are being carried out under the leadership of Cochin Port Trust Chairman Paul Antony, he said.
Thomas said MV Kavaratti was called back on her voyage from Kochi to Lakshadweep yesterday evening to facilitate her journey to international waters. Passengers in the ship were shifted to another vessel to provide them a comfortable trip to Lakshadweep, he said.
The ships started their voyage to Djibouti Port soon after the government decided to evacuate Indian nationals amid the chaotic situation in the Gulf country.
Thomas said though the ships are currently heading towards Djibouti, the port of call would be decided by the Centre in the coming days.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had tweeted yesterday that India was in the process of sending a ship with a capacity of 1,500 passengers.
Meanwhile, some Keralites working in Yemen arrived at the Cochin International Airport this morning.
They said the situation in Yemen is very serious and hundreds of Indians in that country are living in fear.
There are about 3,500 Indians, most of them 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, prompting President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi to flee for Saudi Arabia.