NEW DELHI: At least seven Indians are reported missing in the airstrike by Saudi-led coalition forces on a boat which attempted to break the blockade on Yemeni ports on Tuesday morning.
Initial media reports, based on local sources in Yemen, had claimed that about 20 Indians were killed in the attack. Indian embassy officials managed to contact local residents and piece together a more coherent picture.
“Indian Embassy officials in Djbouti are in touch with local contacts and we have ascertained that there were two boats, one of which was plying between Berbera (Somalia) and Mokha (Yemen),” said Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup on Wednesday. Mokha is about 150 km from Hudaydah Port, the second most important port of the strategically-located Gulf nation.
The Indian mission had relocated to Djibouti at the end of the massive operation to evacuate Indian nationals in April. “The boats were carrying a total of 20 Indian crew members of whom 13 are alive and 7 are reported missing,” said the spokesperson. However, there was no additional information and a meeting with the boat owner is expected to bring more clarity.
Meanwhile, Yemen Post, an online newspaper, tweeted that four survivors were being treated for burns. As per local sources, the boat was smuggling diesel, as Yemen is facing severe fuel shortage due to the port blockade imposed by the Saudi-led coalition, which is fighting against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in the country.