Two more ships arrived at Kerala’s Kochi port on Saturday carrying 475 evacuees from strife-hit Yemen as India’s evacuation operation named ‘Operation Raahat’ headed for a close.
The last of the rescue ships, MV Kavarathi and MV Corals brought with them more tales of grit of Keralites who endured multiple challenges caused by internal strife, disease, late-stages of pregnancy during evacuation, dust storms and even a threat from Somalian pirates.
One of the heroes in Kerala over the weekend was Sashi Kumar, who hails from Oachira in Kollam district, who had risked his and his pregnant wife Raji’s lives by taking a trip to Sana’a in an attempt to reach the Indian rescue mission.
During the stressful days, Raji delivered a baby girl, Parvathy. As luck would have it, Kumar had to stay back at Sana’a for want of travel documents while Raji was airlifted to India along with the baby, in the safety of an incubator. On reaching home, Parvathy was detected with early-stage pneumonia and had to be hospitalised, but is now in stable condition.
Kumar reached Kochi by the rescue vessel MV Corals on Saturday and was excitement personified as he rushed to catch up with his wife and newborn child. Kumar has been an electrician in Yemen for 11 years and Raji worked in Yemen as a nurse. Kumar intends to return to Yemen when the situation improves there.
Equally remarkable was the grit shown by a Yemeni national, Salah Hussain Mohammad (50), a kidney patient, who arrived by MV Kavarathi with his wife who is from Mumbai. Before of boarding the ship he underwent an extra dialysis. On reaching Kochi, he was admitted to a local hospital where doctors ruled his condition as satisfactory.
Keralite evacuees who returned by the two ships said that after fleeing Yemen, they had to undergo another nightmare on high seas when Somalian pirates attempted to attack them during the journey. Luckily for the evacuees, the ships were accompanied by two Indian Navy vessels carrying marine commandos who thwarted the pirates’ plans.
Some evacuees said the lights in the ships were turned off one night when the naval marine commandos engaged the pirates.
Many who returned from Yemen said they intended to go back as soon as normalcy was restored in that country. Some said they had not got their salaries for the month of March and some others said they had not got their certificates back from their employers.