PM Modi reviews steps ahead of Cyclone Yaas

India has placed its military aircraft and warships on standby for rescue and relief ahead of Cyclone Yaas making landfall on the country’s eastern coast on May 26, officials familiar with the development said on Sunday.
Indian Coast Guard (ICG) mobilises its assets in view of Cyclone Yaas which is expected to hit the Eastern Coast on May 26, 2021. (PTI)
Indian Coast Guard (ICG) mobilises its assets in view of Cyclone Yaas which is expected to hit the Eastern Coast on May 26, 2021. (PTI)
Updated on May 24, 2021 06:45 AM IST
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By, New Delhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday reviewed the preparedness of states and central government agencies ahead of the expected landfall of Cyclone Yaas – a low-pressure area in the Bay of Bengal has intensified into a depression that will cross the West Bengal and Odisha coasts on May 26 as a “very severe cyclonic storm” – and called for the timely evacuation of people.

India has placed its military aircraft and warships on standby for rescue and relief ahead of Cyclone Yaas making landfall on the country’s eastern coast on May 26, officials familiar with the development said on Sunday. Army, navy and coast guard relief teams are also ready to be deployed to assist civil authorities at short notice, the officials said.

At a high-level meeting, the Prime Minister asked officials to work in close coordination with states to ensure the safe evacuation of people from high-risk areas, and to ensure that the time duration of outages of power supply and communication network are minimum, a statement by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said.

The Centre and states likely to be affected by Yaas have enhanced their vigilance and preparedness amid fresh memories of Tauktae – the strongest Arabian Sea cyclone in over 20 years – and the havoc wreaked by Amphan last year. The fact that the crossing of the cyclone, by current estimates, coincides with the spring tide (which could mean more storm surges) is worrying, according to experts.

“It is very likely to cross north Odisha-West Bengal between the Paradip and Sagar islands by evening of 26th May as a very severe cyclonic storm,” it added. The state governments as well as the Centre are preparing for the cyclone that will bring winds with a speed ranging 155-165 kmph and gusting to 185 kmph.

At the meeting, Modi asked officials to ensure proper coordination and planning with state governments so that there is no disruption in Covid-19 treatment and vaccination in hospitals. He called for involving various stakeholders such as coastal communities and industries, and reaching out to them and sensitising them, the PMO said.

The ministry of home affairs is reviewing the situation and is in touch with the state governments, union territories and the central agencies concerned. It has released the first instalment of SDRF in advance to all states, and the National Disaster Response Force has pre-positioned 46 teams which are equipped with boats, tree-cutters, telecom equipment in five states and UT. In addition, 13 teams were being airlifted on Sunday for deployment and 10 teams were kept on standby, the PMO said. Union home minister Amit Shah, other ministers and senior officials attended the meeting with the PM.

The Indian Air Force has kept one C-17, one IL-76, three C-130s, four An-32s and two Dornier transport aircraft on readiness for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Ashish Moghe said on Sunday. “Additionally, 11 Mi-17 V5s, two Chetaks, three Cheetahs, two Dhruvs and seven Mi-17 helicopters are also on alert for any eventuality,” he said.

As of Sunday, the IAF airlifted 950 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel and 70 tonnes of cargo from Jamnagar, Varanasi, Patna and Arakonnam to Kolkata, Bhubaneswar and Port Blair in 15 aircraft.

The navy, which was at the centre of rescue and relief efforts in Arabian Sea in the aftermath of Cyclone Tauktae, has also shifted into overdrive to respond to the situation likely to unfold along the eastern coast.

The armed forces have commenced preparations to mitigate the impact of Cyclone Yaas, the defence ministry said.

“The Indian Navy, fresh from HADR and rescue operations on the western coast, has moved 10 HADR pallets to Bhubaneswar and Kolkata, while five HADR pallets are ready at Port Blair. Eight ships of the Eastern Naval Command and Andaman and Nicobar Command have been embarked with HADR bricks (relief material) to provide succour to the people likely to be impacted,” the ministry said in a statement.

Four diving teams and 10 flood relief columns are ready in Kolkata, Bhubaneswar and Chilika for providing assistance to the civil authorities at short notice, the officials said. Also, seven flood relief teams and two diving teams are ready at different locations in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Naval aircraft and helicopters in Visakhapatnam and Port Blair are on alert to carry out search and rescue missions, the officials said.

“Eight flood relief columns and three engineer task forces of the Indian Army are ready for immediate deployment on requisition by the civil administration. The armed forces are in constant touch with the civil administration of the affected states. Armed forces teams are aware of the need to keep the road and rail links open to ensure uninterrupted supply of life saving oxygen and drugs required for treatment at Covid hospitals,” the statement added.

The ministry said the Indian Coast Guard has also mobilised its assets.

“All ashore, afloat and aviation units are on high alert and ICG ships and aircraft have been deployed in Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea,” said another statement.

“In addition, 31 coast guard disaster relief teams with inflatable boats, lifebuoys and lifejackets are on standby. Medical teams and ambulances have also been kept on standby for swift mobilisation,” it added.

With inputs from agencies

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Wednesday, May 18, 2022