India evacuates 700 from Yemen as rebels move on key port (dpa German Press Agency)

Sana’a (dpa) – India Sunday announced that it had evacuated almost 700 people – mostly its own citizens – from Yemen, as Houthi rebels advanced on the country’s largest port.
Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin wrote on Twitter that three Air India planes had flown out 488 of the country’s citizens from the Yemeni capital Sana’a in the “largest evacuation to date.”
Another 203 people were evacuated by sea from the south-eastern town of al-Shihr, Akbaruddin tweeted. Twenty-one of those were from seven other countries, he said.
An official at Sana’a airport, who asked not to be named, said that Pakistani and Turkish planes had also evacuated foreign nationals Sunday.
Yemeni airspace has been closed to most traffic since a bombing campaign led by neighbouring Saudi Arabia started targeting the mainly Shia Houthi rebels late last month.
Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies have been backing fugitive President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi, fearing that regional rival Iran stands to gain from the advances of the Houthis.
Meanwhile, forces loyal to the Houthis advanced on the port of Aden, one of the country’s key maritime gateways.
Local sources in the city, which served as Hadi’s temporary capital until he fled to Saudi Arabia late last month, said the rebels had pushed into the al-Ma’alla district around the port.
The area was coming under heavy shelling and the mainly Shiite Houthis had captured the provincial government headquarters there, the sources said.
The rebel advance comes a day after the Indian navy evacuated over 400 foreign nationals from Aden port.
According to the UN, more than 500 people have been killed and nearly 1,700 injured in Yemen over the past two weeks.
The Red Cross on Saturday called for an urgent humanitarian ceasefire to allow medical aid to reach areas hit by the fighting and let residents get safe access to food and water.
The Houthis, backed by army units thought to be loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, now control much of northern Yemen and are trying to advance on remaining Hadi loyalists in the formerly independent south.