IAF airlifts 5,000 tsunami victims

Published on Jan 03, 2005 01:20 PM IST

Dozens of IAF aircraft carried over 5,000 tonnes of relief materials in the past week to tsunami-affected areas.

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PTI | ByIndo-Asian News Service, New Delhi

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has mounted one of its largest operations in peacetime to provide succour to victims of the tsunami in the region, with dozens of aircraft carrying over 5,000 tonnes of relief materials in the past week.

The IAF has rescued and airlifted over 5,000 people from tsunami-affected areas of south India and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands as part of "Operation Sea Wave", its codename for the relief operation, a spokesman said on Sunday.

Since the tidal waves triggered by an undersea earthquake devastated several countries in South Asia on December 26, the IAF has airlifted over 5,000 tonnes of food, water, blankets, tents, clothing, generators and medicines.

Seven Il-76 heavy transport aircraft, eight Mi-8 helicopters, eight Mi-17 helicopters, 15 AN-32 transport aircraft and three Avros have been operating in the tsunami-hit areas.

The air force has moved 16,000 litres of aviation fuel to Andaman and Nicobar Islands so that the relief operations can be carried out unhindered.

The IAF's Mi-17 helicopters and Il-76 jets have also been pressed into operation for rescue and relief work in Sri Lanka and Maldives.

Apart from this, the IAF is assisting in carrying out surveys of damage caused by the tsunami in all the affected areas.

An IAF team was airlifted to Car Nicobar airbase for its reconstruction Dec 27.
The strategic airbase was devastated by gigantic waves that caused extensive damage to its runway and air traffic control facility.

The IAF is also providing assistance in rebuilding roads and restoring electricity and communications by airlifting heavy equipment and machinery to the affected areas.

Senior IAF officials are also visiting the affected areas to oversee relief operations. Air Marshal SK Malik, the IAF's vice chief, visited south India and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands on Sunday.

The new air force chief, Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi, is scheduled to visit the island territories on Tuesday.

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