Chennai: With three Indian Navy warships - INS Airavat, INS Shakti and INS Sahyadri - docking at Chennai port loaded with rescue and relief material, the Indian Navy has rolled out one of the largest rescue operations in Chennai since the Tsunami tragedy of 2004, even as waters that had started to recede rose again after a new cloudburst sent residents running for shelter under trees and in shop-fronts.
Parts of the flat, coastal city remained under up to eight feet (2.5 meters) of water for a fourth consecutive day. IAF rescue helicopters were grounded briefly on Friday by renewed rains that spread fear in the flood-struck city of Chennai, while the death of 14 patients in the ICU at a private hospital added to the official toll of 280 confirmed killed in the disaster.
Rear Admiral Alok Bhatnagar, Flag Officer, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry Naval Area said the city of Chennai is witnessing the largest rescue operations post Tsunami. All the three warships sailed from the Eastern Naval Base at Visakhapatnam with each carrying close to 100 tonnes of relief material.
The Navy sent its team from INS Airawat to six flood affected areas in and around Chennai. Velicherry being the worst hit, the Naval commandos began rescuing people marooned inside their homes.
The ships, equipped with small boats and life rafts came in useful while rescuing flood affected people to the safety. Most Naval personnel who took part in rescue ops were good swimmers which helped them to plunge fearlessly into neck-deep water to pull people to safety. Naval personnel tied long ropes to the houses and the raft to ensure people walked to safety holding on to the ropes.
"The rafts and Gemini boats which can carry six to ten people at a time are mostly being used in the places where the rescue is required. Many people locked their homes and came on board the rafts. As the rains were receding the water levels were coming down, however the levels may go up during Saturday's rescue as it's been raining since post afternoon. Our teams will be once again deployed in the affected areas towards the morning hours," said a spokesperson from the Indian Navy.
“Naval ships are often used in rescue ops and during Tsunami the Navy not only helped people from India, but also reached till Indonesia to provide rescue and relief. The ships have now arrived and the men are ready to move for rescue and relief,” the Rear Admiral said.
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