Port Blair: With the cyclonic weather condition persisting in the Andamans, around 1,400 tourists remained stranded in two islands on Thursday and naval ships deployed for evacuation were unable to enter the habour due to strong winds.
There were, however, no reports of any casualty from either Havelock or Neil islands hit by the cyclonic weather since Monday.
The rains have stopped since morning but the wind is still blowing hard.
"The weather continues to be bad. Navy ships which were deployed for evacuation have not been able to enter the harbour because of strong winds and choppy seas," a Defence official told PTI.
In the morning, two ships from the administration had sailed from Port Blair but could not berth in the jetty of the islands due to strong winds and rough seas, administration officials said.
Speaking to the media after a meeting with Lt Governor Jagdish Mukhi, Deputy Commissioner of South Andamans Udit Prakash Rai said, "A decision has been taken that hotels where tourists are stranded will not take any room rent from them, besides giving them food and water for free."
"The administration will make all arrangements to send tourists back home once they are rescued," he said.
Flight operations are normal since morning on Thursday.
"Today we are hopeful that the stranded tourists will be brought back to Port Blair. There is no need to panic as everyone is safe," the administration official said.
The official said that there was no report of any loss of life or major damages to property.
However, trees in the islands have been uprooted and electric posts twisted.
Besides the tourists, 600 of whom are from West Bengal, local population in ten villages of Havelock and Neil islands has been affected due to limited supply of essential commodities.
Mobile and internet connectivity have snapped in many areas while transmission faults are hampering power supply.
Officials said they are also coordinating with all airlines for the smooth and timely return of the tourists.
The tourists have been requested to stay in their rooms till weather conditions improve. They have also been asked to stay away from coastal areas.
The administration has asked all tour operators not to take any tourists towards north and middle Andaman as a precautionary measure.
The Lt Governor is himself monitoring the situation.
All the emergency operation centres across the islands are functioning round the clock and are on high alert.
Meanwhile, Air India has waived the cancellation and refund charges for travel to and fro from Port Blair.
Air India spokesperson said in Kolkata that flight operations by the airlines were normal on Thursday.
He said that applicable penalties of re-issuance, date change, no-show, cancellation and refund charges for travel to and from Port Blair stand were waived on all tickets issued to the stranded tourists on or before 7 December for travel during the period between 6 December and 9 December.
The two islands, approximately 40 km from Port Blair, have been hit the most by cyclonic weather conditions caused by a severe depression over southeast Bay of Bengal which led to heavy rainfall, strong wind and rough sea conditions.
The MeT department has predicted that the weather condition in the archipelago is likely to improve with the centre of depression likely to move towards north-westward direction from Friday.
"The depression is very likely to intensify into a deep depression during the next 24 hours and into a cyclonic storm in subsequent 24 hours," officials said.
Neil and Havelock are two of the most popular tourist attractions in Andamans and the only means of transportation from them are vessels and choppers.
Updated Date: Dec 08, 2016 17:09:58 IST