Bengaluru, April 2: Early morning of Thursday witnessed emotional scenes at India's two busy airports in Mumbai and Kochi, when the Indian Air Force's (IAF) C-17 Globemaster-III touched down with evacuated Indians from Yemen.
The IAF planes had taken off from Djibouti with these Indians who were initially evacuated from Aden (Yemen) to Djibouti by Indian Navy's warship INS Sumitra. The ship had to sail through hostile environment while undertaking this evacuation mission.
Ministry of Defence spokesperson told OneIndia on Thursday morning that one C-17 Globemaster-III landed at Kochi at 2 am with 168 persons, while another one landed in Mumbai with 190 persons at around 4 am.
"It was a well-coordinated HADR (Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief) operation by the Indian Navy and the IAF," the spokesperson said.
At Kochi International Airport in Nedumbassery, the evacuated personnel were received by the state Minister of Non-Resident Keralite Affairs (NORKA) K C Joseph and state Minister of Ports and Excise K Babu.
"We are thankful for the India's defence forces for saving our lives. There are more people to be evacuated. We are happy that we are back home," one of the rescued persons said.
Defence officials said that with the arrival of 168 persons in Kochi, the first round of evacuations under Operation Raahat has been completed.
"This would be followed by evacuation by two merchant vessels sent from Kochi -- MV Kavaratti and MV Coral -- under escort by the naval destroyer INS Mumbai and stealth frigate INS Tarkash," an MoD spokesperson said.
In Mumbai, the evacuated persons were there after handed over to Air India ground staff for baggage and immigration formalities.
An External Affairs Ministry spokesperson said that out of the total evacuees, 206 belonged to Kerala, 40 from Tamil Nadu, 31 from Maharashtra, 23 from West Bengal and 22 from Delhi, besides few from other states as well. [See more pictures]
Hours before both Globemasters touched down in India, MEA Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin tweeted: "Braving the weather with high spirits, Indian nationals evacuated from Aden now in Djibouti will be home tonight."