Hodeida: At least three Yemeni soldiers were burned to death when a volcano erupted on a Red Sea island, sparking a major rescue operation yesterday for the rest of its garrison.
Survivors evacuated to the Yemeni port city of Hodeida said the soldiers were killed outright when the volcano erupted on island of Jebel Al Tair, some 150km away.
"They [the three soldiers] were killed immediately after the eruption of the volcano at 5.30pm (1330 GMT) on Sunday," another soldier told reporters.
A government official said three bodies had been recovered, along with one survivor. Another four soldiers were still missing and believed to be dead.
The Canadian navy said the frigate HMCS Toronto joined the rescue mission at the request of the Yemeni coast guard. The vessel had been on its way to the Suez Canal on a Nato deployment when it received the request for assistance, the navy said.
The Yemeni coast guard said that around 50 soldiers were on the island at the time of eruption. Most of the garrison was evacuated by the coastguard.
"Some of them were wounded and have been taken to hospital," a military commander said.
There had been considerable seismic activity around the island ahead of the eruption, the Yemeni defence ministry said on its website. It said that an earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale had been recorded on Friday.
The 1,200 metre-high volcano last erupted in the 19th century, Saba quoted geologists as saying.