Chennai: The city police employed technology like GPS, drones and Whatsapp messenger to rescue and locate people stranded in floods in the last few days, thus efficiently managing search and rescue operations in the aftermath of the Chennai floods.
"Relatives of people have been flooding us with queries on status of people stranded in flood. Apart from rescuing thousands of people in boats, the city police formed a Whatsapp group to look into distress calls and locate people who are isolated and stranded so that their relatives sitting as far as in California in the US breath a sigh of relief" said a senior police officer.
Drones were used extensively in areas like Tambaram, Defence Colony and Pallikaranai to locate and rescue people stranded in the floods, the officer added.
Crediting Professor Senthil Nathan of MIT Chrompet for helping them with the technical know-how of drones, the official said, "Once the video camera fitted in drones locates the people, we use GPS maps to find their exact location and the rescue teams are sent in boats to the location with real time instructions. Nearly 30 families have been rescued and brought to safe locations using these drones," said the officer.
The city police have also formed a Whatsapp group that has 30 teams search and locate people in distress. Information regarding stranded families are posted in the group.
"We received a call from a man in California, US, who wanted to know the status of his parents Selvaraj, 72, and Devi, 65, staying in an apartment in Valsaravskkam. Our team located them, gave them essential commodities before taking a photo of them so that we can send the same to his son. Seeing them will be a great relief to their son" noted an officer.
In another incident, relatives of patient Hanees Ur Rahman, 60, of Bangladesh, admitted to MIOT were trying to locate him during floods and the tragedy in hospital where 18 people died due to lack of Oxygen.
"Our team went to the hospital and located him in room number 359 in hospital and sent their relatives the details with picture" the police said.
In another case two Italians, stranded in an Ashram in Manapakkam were located and sent to Bengaluru.
The city police have been on such rescue and relief operations for the last five days and have tracked over 200 families on behalf of their relatives. However the number of distress calls have come down drastically in the last couple of days since December 1. The same period saw as many as 93 deaths in the city of which 49 were cases of drowning.