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Warship crew make extra efforts to ensure comfort for evacuees

Going beyond their call of duty, crew members of warship INS Sumitra ensured that the 306 Indians evacuated from Yemen have a comfortable journey back home after their ordeal in the war-ravaged country.

Crew living quarters were cleared to make room for women, elderly persons and children while 2-3 cooks of the warship had to work day-and-night to prepare meals for the evacuees as the ship’s kitchen is designed to serve only about 100 people, Naval officials said here today.

INS Sumitra with 306 Indian nationals — 251 men, 38 women, 17 children — had departed for Djibouti from Yemen yesterday and is expected to reach there by today.

“Keeping in view that these people have gone through agony, faced threat to their lives and have been ousted from their homes, leaving all their belongings behind, instructions were given by the Western Naval Command Headquarters to ensure a comfortable stay for the evacuees during the passage,” Naval officials said.

Extensive arrangements were made by the crew of the ship, an off-shore patrol vessel, to ensure that all evacuees were well looked after even if it came at the cost of their own comfort, they said.

“Crew living quarters were cleared to accommodate women, elderly and children. On board, the ship’s medical officer attended to those in need of medical care. Special care was provided to pregnant women and the elderly,” they said.

“The ship also arranged for hot meals for all evacuees. The ship’s galley (or kitchen) is designed to cater to only 100 persons (which is the strength of its crew). However, rising to the occasion, two-three cooks of the ship worked day-and-night to provide for persons around three times their usual strength, using the ships own rations,” they said.

With the aim to evacuate the maximum numbers of persons, male evacuees were accommodated on the upper deck under the cover of shamianas.

The authorities had also dispatched INS Mumbai and INS Tarkash on the night of March 30 from Mumbai. INS Mumbai is charging ahead to enter the Yemeni port while INS Tarkash is escorting two ships from the Shipping Corporation of India (Ex Cochin). These vessels will enter the piracy-prone waters of the Gulf of Aden on April 4 to join in the rescue effort.

High-level coordination between various government agencies and the Navy was achieved to rescue and evacuate Indians from the troubled land, they added.

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