Explosions rocked airport in Yemen as new Yemeni government arrived from Saudi Arabia, killing at least 25 and injuring dozens more

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  • A huge explosion hit an airport in Aden, Yemen, minutes after a convoy carrying Yemen’s newly-sworn in cabinet government landed from Riyadh.  
  • No group has claimed responsibility for the attack but Yemen’s new government and the Saudi-led coaltion have charged Houthi-rebels with orchestrating the attack.
  • According to the Associated Press, at least 25 people were killed and 110 were wounded in the blast.
  • Many news channels captured the tragic moment live while reporting on the potential for a breakthrough in Yemen’s decade long civil war.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A massive explosion rocked the airport in Aden, Yemen, early Wednesday, minutes after a plane landed from Saudi Arabia carrying members of Yemen’s newly formed cabinet.

According to the Associated Press, at least 25 people were killed and 110 were wounded in the blast.

In scenes broadcast live on several news channels, after the first explosion, civilians and security officers ran away as cameras panned out to the blast, while the politicians scurried away to safety. Images and videos from the blast show chaotic scenes in the aftermath, as well as a smoke and debris-filled airport with bodies strewn around inside terminals.

 

No government officials on the plane were hurt by the blast, per the AP report.

Yemeni Communication Minister Naguib al-Awg, a passenger on the plane, told the AP that the attacks may have been drone attacks, stating there were multiple.

“It would have been a disaster if the plane was bombed,” al-Awg said, claiming that the plane was the target and was scheduled to land earlier.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Yemen’s government has charged that Iran-backed Houthi rebels targeted the airport with ballistic missiles. Officials reported a second explosion near the presidential palace, where the new cabinet members were transferred after the first attack. 

The announcement and introduction of a revitalized cabinet in Yemen potentially offered a new chance for collaboration between Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and separatists backed by the United Arab Emirates.

Throughout the course of the decade-long humanitarian crisis and war, which has gripped Yemen, Hadi’s government has at times sided with UAE-backed separatists and been supported by a US and Saudi-led military campaign, which has targeted Houthi rebels, who control swaths of Northern Yemen as well as the capital Sanaa. At least 233,000 Yemenis have been killed throughout the war from indirect and direct causes, according to the UN.

Several high-ranking Yemeni officials responded to the attack, as did humanitarian organizations on the ground in Aden, a highly disputed port city.

Yemeni Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed tweeted that he and his cabinet were unharmed, calling the attacks a “cowardly terrorist act.”

Health Minister Qasem Buhaibuh tweeted that at least 25 people were killed and 110 others were wounded, adding that many were seriously wounded.

Several humanitarian workers and journalists were killed in the blast.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said that three workers were killed in the Aden blast. “This is a tragic day for the ICRC and for the people of Yemen,” said Dominik Stillhart, ICRC’s director of operations.

Yemeni Belqees TV, a Yemeni news channel, said that reporter Adeeb al-Ganabi was killed in the airport blast, and Yemeni Information Minister Moammer al-Iryani added that at least 10 other journalists reporting on the historic arrival were wounded.

The Yemeni prime minister also tweeted a video after the attack, and said his government was in Aden “to stay.” 

After Houthi rebels took over Sanaa in 2014, Aden has largely been Hadi’s base. The plane carrying Yemen’s new cabinet was returning from Riyadh, where they were sworn in last week after striking a deal with the separatists. 

Yemen’s internationally recognized government has largely operated from Riyadh during the war, where cabinet members have been self-exiled.

The UN Secretary-General and several embassies issued statements condemning the attack as well.

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The day before Christmas eve saw largest number of travelers passing through airports since March

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Travellers wear facemasks at Miami International Airport on December 24, 2020, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The day before Christmas eve saw the largest number of travelers passed by the airports since March.

A total of over 1.19 million travelers passed through checkpoints at airports across the country on Wednesday, according to the Transportation and Security Administration. This is the largest number of travelers since March, topping 1.17 million travelers who passed through airports on the weekend after Thanksgiving, according to data from the TSA. 

Millions of Americans traveled through airports during the week of the Thanksgiving holiday, despite the Center for Disease Control and Prevention urging the public to not do so.

Coupled with the consequences of pandemic fatigue and more people congregating indoors due to cold weather, the amount of travel and gathering over Thanksgiving proved deadly: As Business Insider’s Morgan McFall-Johnsen reported earlier this month, over 47,000 people have died from coronavirus since Thanksgiving. 

Ahead of the Christmas holiday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, told The Washington Post that he advises the public to “stay at home as much as you can, keep your interactions to the extent possible to members of the same household” and noted that the holidays “cannot be business as usual” this time.

Nurses on the frontlines told Business Insider’s Allana Akhtar that they expect a surge in cases following the winter holidays, similar to what they witnessed after Thanksgiving. 

“We’re just kind of expecting the numbers to only get worse, unfortunately,” said Sarah Curran, a nurse in the ICU in Michigan. 

These alarmingly high numbers of travel come amid grim milestones related to the coronavirus. As of Saturday, the US surpassed 18.7 million cases of coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University. The US has seen a 7.6% increase in the number of cases over the past week, according to the COVID Tracking project, and due to the overwhelming number of cases, some areas like regions in California are setting up tents outside to make room for patients. 

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Over 2 million people passed through the airport this weekend ahead of the Christmas holiday, following the tragic trend of Thanksgiving travel

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Crowds seen on Friday waiting by the baggage carousel at the Miami International Airport as the Christmas holiday travel starts despite the Coronavirus pandemic.

Amid a surge in coronavirus cases following the Thanksgiving holiday, over 2 million people have passed through airports in the US between Friday and Saturday, according to the Transportation Security Administration.

A record number of US travelers passed through the airports over the Thanksgiving holiday, with the Sunday following Thanksgiving recording around 1.17 million travelers – the highest since March. 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention had urged the American public against traveling over Thanksgiving, but over 5 million Americans passed through airports over the week of the holiday. Public health experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, warned of an uptick in coronavirus cases following the high rates of travel. 

As Business Insider’s Morgan McFall-Johnsen reported, over 47,000 people in the country have died from coronavirus since the Thanksgiving holiday and hospitals have struggled to support an overwhelming number of patients. 

While the tragic surge in deaths is attributed to pandemic fatigue, cold weather forcing people indoors, and lax policies on masks and closures, the recent record-breaking days of death are also the result of infections contracted around Thanksgiving, McFall-Johnsen reported.

Dr. Fauci, in a recent interview with The Washington Post, warned the public ahead of the Christmas holiday to remain home as much as possible, and that it “cannot be business as usual this Christmas because we’re already in a very difficult situation, and we’re going to make it worse if we don’t do something about it.” 

As of Sunday, the US recorded a total of 17.6 million cases of coronavirus and over 316,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. 

Since last Tuesday, airports have recorded an increased number of travelers passing by the checkpoint with the past consecutive days recording over 1 million travelers passing by, respectively, according to the TSA. 

Meanwhile, various countries around the world including Italy, Germany, and the UK have announced stricter lockdowns ahead of the winter holidays. 

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