Cyclone Vardah: Andaman requests air sorties to evacuate tourists in Havelock island, send supplies

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Port Blair: With the deep depression over Southeast Bay of Bengal intensifying into cyclonic storm "Vardah", the Andaman and Nicobar administration on Thursday requested the Defence Ministry to provide air sorties to expedite the movement of tourists trapped in the islands and ensure essential supplies.

In view of the inconvenience faced by the tourists who are held up in Havelock and Neil Islands mainly due to inclement weather, Andaman and Nicobar Lt Governor Jagdish Mukhi has directed all hotel owners in the two islands to provide accommodation and food to the stranded tourists free of charge for the period of extended stay both as a humanitarian gesture and as part of Corporate Social Responsibility.

 Cyclone Vardah: Andaman requests air sorties to evacuate tourists in Havelock island, send supplies

Representational image. AFP

According to ANI, Mukhi said that approximately 1,000 tourists are stranded due to bad weather, out of which 320 are foreign nationals by Friday morning. The agency had reported the number of stranded tourists to be around 1,400 on Wednesday.

Rescue halted in Havelock Island

Meanwhile, as we reported on Thursday, the four ships despatched by the Indian Navy for rescuing the 800 trapped tourists in Havelock Island were waiting outside the harbour, unable to start the operation due to inclement weather.

"The ships will hold position and return only after picking up the tourists," said a Defence Ministry spokesperson in Kolkata.

On Thursday, Mukhi held a detailed meeting with the administrative officials and other stakeholders including tour operators' association, hotel owners and directed the Directorate of Shipping Services to make all possible efforts to send boats to Havelock and Neil Islands once the sea conditions improved.

The administration has also asked the tour operators not to take any tourist towards North and Middle Andaman as a precautionary measure, till the weather improved.

The Directorate of Tourism is coordinating with all airline agencies for the smooth and timely return journey of the tourists to their respective hometowns, a release from the Andaman and Nicobar administration said.

High rainfall expected

However, the MET Office has forecast heavy rainfall and wind at a speed of 45-55 kilometres per hour during the next 24 hours. The tourists have been advised to stay in their rooms and stay away from coastal areas until further notice.

The cyclonic weather witnessed in the Islands since Tuesday has resulted in the uprooting of trees, disruption of the power supply and flooding of some of the low-lying areas. However, there is no report of any loss of life, from any parts of the Islands so far.

All the Emergency Operation Centres across the islands are functioning round the clock and are on high alert. The situation is being monitored at the highest levels round the clock.

Cyclone Vardah to hit Andhra Pradesh by 12 December

According to a press release issued by India Meteorological Department on Thursday at 2 pm, Cyclone Vardah "is very likely to move nearly northwards for some more time, then northwestwards and cross Andhra Pradesh coast between Nellore and Kakinada around forenoon or noon of 12 December 2016." However, there is a possibility of slight weakening of the system before landfall, it said.

The IMD release also advised fishermen not to venture into sea along and off Andhra Pradesh coast from 10 December onwards. Meanwhile, N Chandrababu Naidu, chief minister of Andhra Pradesh requested all citizens on Twitter to remain indoors.

The IMD release also warned light to moderate rainfall at many places with isolated heavy falls over coastal Andhra Pradesh from 11 December evening, and warned fishermen not to venture into sea along and off the Andaman Islands and adjoining sea areas during next 24 hrs and Nicobar Islands and adjoining sea areas during next 12 hrs.

With Agency inputs

Updated Date: Dec 12, 2016 11:37:36 IST