A northern military official said troops loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a northerner, were within 12 miles of the southern capital of Aden. Witnesses said two northern planes had been shot down over the city - one apparently trying to bomb the residence of Vice-President Ali Salem al- Baidh, the southern leader.
The United States organised an airlift of scores of US, German, British and Egyptian nationals from Sanaa to the Saudi capital, Riyadh. Hundreds of the estimated 1,500 Westerners in Yemen and 5,000 people of dual Western-Yemeni nationalities have already been evacuated from Aden by French warships to Djibouti.
US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Robert Pelletreau, said in Oman that the north seemed to have the advantage.