First aid planes arrive in Yemen as Saudi-led air strikes batter capital
The first medical aid reached Yemen by plane on Friday as a Saudi-led coalition launched its most intense strikes since the launch of a campaign against Iran-backed rebels last month.
Two plane loads arrived in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, carrying more than 30 tonnes of medical aid, after weeks of conflict which have displaced 100,000 people and created a potential humanitarian catastrophe in the impoverished nation.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF, who sent the aid, have been trying for days to get aid flights into the country, where warplanes from a Saudi-led coalition have carried out air strikes against Houthi fighters battling to take over the southern port city of Aden.
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The fighting has killed more than 600 people.ICRC spokeswoman in Yemen, Marie Claire Feghali, speaking by telephone from Sanaa airport, said the Red Cross shipment included 16.4 tonnes of medicines, bandages, intravenous drips and surgical equipment.
UNICEF spokesman Christophe Boulierac said the U.N. agency's plane had also landed after a week of delays.
"Our plane has just landed in Sanaa from Djibouti," he said.
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Aden residents say electricity and water have been cut off in several districts, rubbish has been left uncollected in the streets and hospitals have been unable to cope.
From 10.00pm on Thursday night and into Friday morning, warplanes from the Saudi Arabia-led coalition launched "the most violent [strikes] since the start of 'Operation Decisive Storm'," a resident of the southern city told AFP.
The air strikes lasted well into the night, said other residents of Aden, especially the municipal headquarters of Dar Saad at the city's northern entrance.
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They were carried out a few hours after Huthi Shia rebels and renegade army soldiers loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh arrived at the building, according to the residents.
Coalition aircraft also targeted other positions, including a stadium in the centre of the city and checkpoints manned by the rebel forces.
There was no way to immediately verify the reports."Extremely violent" air raids also targeted Ataq, the capital of Shabwa province east of Aden which was seized by Saleh's forces on Thursday, an official said.
Strikes were launched against a missile base near the town and an arms depot at a base in Morra, to the west of Ataq, said another official.
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Rebel positions were been targeted around the city of Lahj, north of Aden, according to residents.
The Saudi-led coalition launched the air strikes against the Huthi Shiite rebels on March 26 in support of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi after they seized the capital and forced him to flee to Aden and later Riyadh.