Army, Navy pressed into rescue mission

Having successfully carried out rescue operations in the mountains of Uttarakhand, the Army moved to the east coast to help those hit by Cyclone Phailin.

The Navy had moved two ships to undertake the biggest ever relief work, which was adequate to sustain 5,000 people affected by cyclone Phailin in the twin states of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.

The Eastern Naval Command had put Indian Navy’s second largest platform INS Jalashwa on the stand by in Odisha as it could provide logistics, including divers, inflatable rubber boats and helicopters to attend to people impacted by the cyclone. Besides, the landing platform also has doctors, food/medicine and clothes to take care of the victims for three days.

The Navy had also dispatched six advance diving teams with inflatable boats, rescue materials and satellite communication equipments by road enabling them to operate from the INS Chilka, 50 km north of Gopalapatnam. Four platoons drawn from the local Naval station was kept to offer them back up support.

Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde told reporters that 18 Indian Air Force helicopters and 12 aircrafts were ready for relief and rescue operations. Additionally, four Army relief columns were in Visakhapatnam and six in Odisha. One engineering Column and two Navy ships were also kept on stand by.

The Eastern Naval Command kept a round the clock vigil on Phailin and was in touch with the authorities in Odisha and AP to ensure instant support.

Six helicopters were kept on readiness at the Naval Air Station INS Dega to undertake reconnaissance and rescue operations. The choppers would also be used to airdrop relief material to those stranded at the landfall areas.

In the biggest ever exercise in recent times, the Navy had put on alert four more ships, 30 diving teams, four platoons with material that could be deployed in short notice from Visakhapatnam to Paradip, said Navy sources.

The Army also tasked with restoration efforts apart from providing rescue and medical facilities through land, had mobilised an Engineering column made of medical and signal personnel that would move from Bhubaneswar to Gopalpur in Ganjam district of Odisha.

C-17 Globe Master, IAF's latest acquisition that had successfully transported men and material post flash-flood in Uttarakhand, flew to offload 60 troops, heavy army vehicles and ambulance to Bhubaneswar, before cyclone Phailin hit on Saturday evening.

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