Andaman: Situation at Havelock Island normal now; LG Mukhi tells hotels not to charge tourists for stay, food

New Delhi/Port Blair: Rescue operations of around 1,400 stranded tourists in two islands of Andamans due to cyclonic weather began this morning as the Navy, Coast Guard and Union Territory administration jointly undertook a major evacuation drive.

 Six ships of the Indian Navy and two Indian Coast Guard ships sailed on Friday morning to evacuate around 1400 tourists from Havelock Island in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a statement said. According to ANI, the Indian Navy has rescued 17 people in the first shuttle. The Indian Coast Guard is also continuing its rescue efforts.

"Six Indian Navy ships and two Indian Coast Guard ships sailed out at 9.30 a.m. from Port Blair for rescue operations. Three Indian Air Force helicopters also taking part in IN, ICG, Army, State administration joint operation for evacuation of stranded tourists in the Havelock Island," Indian Navy said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Lt Governor Jagdish Mukhi assured that there has been no loss of life and that the tourists are safe.

The sudden evacuation mission was initiated at the request of the Andaman and Nicobar disaster management which speculates that a "cyclonic storm" might struck Havelock, an island about 36 km from capital Port Blair. Havelock and Neil islands are the most popular tourist attractions of Andamans, and the worst affected.

"A decision has been taken that hotels, where tourists are stranded, will not take room rent from them, besides giving them food and water for free," Deputy Commissioner of South Andamans Udit Prakash Rai had said on Thursday.

The Navy on Wednesday made its first attempt to rescue the tourists stranded in Havelock. However, due to extreme weather conditions, the tourists could not reach the jetty to board the ships.

Four navy ships had to return in a failed rescue attempt, the officials from Andaman and Nicobar Disaster Management informed.

"Now the weather conditions have improved. It's only moderate rain and winds. We hope the tourists will be able to reach the jetty. Ships have already left from Port Blair," an official from Andaman and Nicobar Disaster Management told IANS.

The official said the sudden evacuation was called for as they did not want to take any risk given a deep depression (in the sea) developed about 310 km from Port Blair.

With inputs from IANS and PTI

Updated Date: Dec 09, 2016 13:26:40 IST