Heavy rains stall navy evacuation ops of stranded Indian tourists on Andamans
The Indian Navy deployed ships to evacuate 800 Indian tourists stranded on the Andaman islands as heavy rains lashed the area due to a cyclonic storm in the Bay of Bengal.india Updated: Dec 07, 2016 11:54 IST
The Indian Navy deployed four ships on Wednesday to rescue about 800 tourists stranded on the Havelock island in Andaman and Nicobar after a tropical storm unleashed heavy rains, making it unsafe for vessels to sail in.
A navy spokesperson said four ships had set sail to bring back the tourists, but rough weather was impeding the operation. The ships are presently waiting off the island.
The group of islands has been pounded by heavy rains and winds for the past few days, severely affecting travel to the mainland. It wasn’t immediately clear how many days the tourists have been stranded but some reports said it could be about 2-3 days with many of them running out of money.
Officials said the choppy seas and the heavy swell in tide had made the rescue operation difficult for civilian authorities, which then sought the help of the navy.
According to ANI reports, the naval ships deployed were Bitra, Bangaram, Kumbhir and LCU 38.
Thousands of tourists from India and abroad visit the Andamans every year – including the islands of Havelock and Neil – known for their sun-soaked pristine beaches and water sports, including snorkelling to sea walking.
October-to-February is considered the best time to travel to the islands, which also house the famous Cellular Jail in capital Port Blair, built by the British to jail dissenters.
All three defence wings – the army, navy and air force – have bases in the Andamans.
Commercial airlines said they have begun waiving charges for passengers cancelling or rescheduling their flights to the Andamans due to the adverse weather.
In view of current weather situation in Andamans,Vistara is waiving penalties for changes to travel plans to & from Port Blair (1/2)— Vistara (@airvistara) December 6, 2016
Due to Bad Weather at Portblair, all Departures/Arrivals and their consequential flights may get affected. (1/2)— SpiceJet (@flyspicejet) December 6, 2016
The cyclone warning division of the Indian Meteorological Department said the archipelago will receive heavy rainfall over the next 48 hours due to a depression over southeastern Bay of Bengal.
The depression was centered around 1,260 km south-southeast of Vishakhapatnam, and 260 km west-southwest of Car Nicobar, one of the islands in the archipelago.
In July, a Russian-made AN-32 plane of the Indian Air Force with 29 people went missing while flying from Chennai to Port Blair.