Yemeni pro-government forces were locked in heavy fighting with rebels that left 39 people dead yesterday, as they pressed a Saudi and UAE-backed offensive to retake the key aid hub of Hodeida.
The clashes came as the UN Security Council prepared to hold urgent talks on the military operation, which Russia warned could have "catastrophic consequences" for the entire country.
Yemeni forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition launched an assault on Wednesday to retake the port city of Hodeida, which has been controlled by the Iran-backed Huthi rebels along with the capital Sanaa since 2014.
The Huthis suffered 30 fatalities yesterday in clashes near Hodeida airport south of the city, medical sources told AFP.
Nine pro-government troops were killed in the same area, the medics said. Military sources said the deaths were caused by mines and snipers.
The UAE, a driving force in the coalition, said four of its troops were killed on the first day of the offensive Wednesday including at least one navy officer.
The Huthis earlier said they had struck a coalition ship off the coast of Hodeida with two missiles.
Yesterday, authorities at Hodeida port said the Red Sea lifeline remained open to shipping.
"We still have seven ships in the port. The work in the port is normal. And we have five other ships standing by waiting outside to enter," port director Dawood Fadel told AFP.
Two Saudi and UAE aid ships were in the waters off Hodeida, coalition spokesman Turki al-Maliki told Saudi state media.