More than 400 tourists rescued from Andaman island

New Delhi, Dec 9 (IANS) The Indian Coast Guard and the IAF on Friday rescued more than 400 stranded tourists from Havelock Island in the Andaman and Nicobar (A&N) Islands, officials said.

Two Indian Coast Guard ships, ICGS Raj Veer, with more than 122 stranded tourists, and ICGS Kanaklata Barua, with more than 120 tourists, reached Port Blair from Havelock Island.

The Indian Air Force (IAF), in two waves of rescue operations, rescued 208 tourists. The third phase of the rescue operation was underway, the IAF spokesperson said.

The IAF has pressed three Mi-17 V5 helicopters for the rescue operation at Havelock Island.

“Six Indian Navy ships and two Indian Coast Guard ships sailed out at 9.30 a.m. from Port Blair for rescue operations. Three Indian Air Force helicopters also taking part in IN, ICG, Army, State administration joint operation for evacuation of stranded tourists in the Havelock Island,” the Indian Navy said in a statement.

The sudden evacuation mission was initiated at the request of the A&N Disaster Management ahead of a “cyclonic storm” that was likely to strike Havelock, an island 36 km from Port Blair.

The Indian Navy on Wednesday made its first attempt to rescue the tourists stranded in Havelock Island.

However, due to extreme weather conditions, the tourists could not reach the jetty to board the ships.

Four navy ships had to return in the failed rescue attempt, the officials from A&N Disaster Management said.

“Now the weather conditions have improved. It’s only moderate rain and winds. We hope the tourists will be able to reach the jetty. The ships have already left from Port Blair,” an official from the A&N Disaster Management told IANS.

The official said the sudden evacuation was called for as they did not want to take any risk given a deep depression (in the sea) which has developed about 310 km of Port Blair.