SANAA: Saudi-led airstrikes on a missile depot in Yemen’s rebel-held capital on Monday sparked explosions that left at least 18 people dead and 300 wounded, flattening houses and shaking faraway neighbourhoods.

Many more people were feared to have been killed after two strikes hit the hilltop depot, leaving a trail of destruction in the Fajj Attan area of Sanaa which was covered in thick clouds of smoke.

A coalition of Sunni Arab nations led by Saudi Arabia launched the air campaign against the Houthi Shiite rebels last month, vowing to restore the authority of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who fled to Riyadh as the militiamen advanced on his southern refuge of Aden.

Monday’s strikes on Sanaa triggered a series of blasts that sent shockwaves across the city, leaving cars mangled, buildings gutted and streets completely scattered with debris.

Fires broke out at the targeted missile base and a nearby petrol station, witnesses said, and the scorching heat could be felt from a distance.

Civilians were seen emerging from their shattered homes in the aftermath, some of them carrying suitcases and apparently stunned at the scale of the destruction outside.

Medics at four hospitals in the capital said at least 18 civilians were killed and some 300 others wounded.

The hilltop base belongs to the missile brigade of the elite Republican Guard, which remained loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh who has been accused of siding with the Houthi rebels in their fight against the government.

SOURCE: Muscat Daily