Over 1,900 tourists evacuated from Andaman and Nicobar islands
New Delhi/Port Blair, Dec 9 (IANS) Over 1,900 tourists were taken to safety by air and sea from Andaman and Nicobar islands till Friday evening, the Defence Ministry said.
The sudden evacuation was necessitated over fears of a cyclonic storm.
While 1,614 people were taken to safety from Havelock Island, 289 were evacuated from Neil island by Indian Air Force helicopters, Indian Navy, Coast Guard, DSS and private ships, according to a Defence Ministry spokesperson.
Six Indian Navy ships, three Coast Guard vessels and three MI-17 V5 choppers took part in the rescue mission that started on Friday morning despite rain and strong winds.
The army and the Andaman administration also joined the rescue operations.
The six navy ships that took part in the mission are Karmukh, Kumbhir, Bitra, Baratang, LCU 27 and LCU 38.
The three IAF choppers carried out 14 sorties — 11 from Havelock, and three from Neil island.
“Six Indian Navy ships and three Indian Coast Guard ships sailed out at 9.30 a.m. from Port Blair for rescue operations. Three Indian Air Force helicopters are 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 Andaman and Nicobar Disaster Management, which speculates that a “cyclonic storm” might strike Havelock, an island about 36 km from capital Port Blair.
The navy on Wednesday made its first attempt to rescue the tourists stranded on Havelock.
However, due to extreme weather conditions, the tourists could not reach the jetty to board the ships.
Four navy ships had to return in a failed rescue attempt, the officials from A&N Disaster Management informed.
“Now the weather conditions have improved. It’s only moderate rain and winds,” an official from 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 that a deep depression (in the sea) developed about 310 km from Port Blair.