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124 Keralites stranded in strife-torn Yemen: NORKA

Kottayam: 124 Keralites, most of whom are nurses, are stranded in the strife-torn Yemen, the state government agency NORKA has reported. About 124 people have called in requesting for help but the number could rise, informed NORKA (Non Resident Keralites Affairs).

Most Keralites are trapped in Yemen’s capital Sanaa, where Saudi-led coalition has been unleashing massive airstrikes. Majority of the people are seeking help to return to Kerala, while some are requesting to be transferred to safe zones within Yemen itself, NORKA informed.

Helpline numbers 18004253939 (within India) and 0091471233333 9 (outside India)

The Kerala government is in touch with the embassy of Yemen. As most people who contact the embassy of Yemen do not have passports, measures are being taken to give them emergency certificates and send them home.

Norka said that they have started procedures to bring back stranded people with the Centre's help. The Central government had earlier said that ships would be send to evacuate Indians by sea.

Earlier, more than 39 civilians were reported to have been killed in more than 24 hours of Saudi-led air strikes against Shiite rebels in Yemen. Twelve of the victims were killed when a raid against a military base north of Sanaa hit surrounding residential areas.

According to the officials, the witnesses said war planes targeted Al-Samaa base, which is used by army units believed to take orders from their former commander Ahmed Ali Saleh.

Saleh is the son of ousted president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who is accused of allying with the Huthi rebels against President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi. “Three air strikes hit the presidential compound in south Sanaa which the rebels seized last month,” witnesses said.

“Overnight raids targeted another army brigade loyal to Saleh in the eastern province of Marib,” tribal sources said. A military official said that Saudi-led coalition jets also bombed a large arms depot in a third army camp used by forces loyal to the former strongman.

The official spoke of "dozens" of casualties at the camp, located in Sanaa's southern outskirts, but the information could not be independently verified.