From Army’s temporary bridges to Navy’s tricky airlifts: Rescue operations in full swing in Kerala

From Army’s temporary bridges to Navy’s tricky airlifts: Rescue operations in full swing in Kerala

NEW DELHI: Army troops, Navy divers and personnel from several other agencies joined hands with national and state disaster relief forces to rescue hundreds of stranded people from the flood-affected areas of Kerala.

Indian Navy captain P Rajkumar Chakra helped airlift as many as 26 people from a SeaKing 42B helicopter, in extremely challenging conditions hovering between trees and in the limits of man and machine, the Navy said.

READ ALSO: Amid the deluge in Kerala, a story of a new life

On the ground, Army restored connectivity by building temporary bridges and helped stranded people move to safety.

READ ALSO: Army’s ‘tree-trunk bridge’ a hit in flood-affected Kerala

Hundreds of people, including the elderly and children, were rescued from flooded areas in Aluva on Friday. Boats and trucks were dropping people near the Marthanda Varma bridge, one of the few locations in the town still above water, in every 10 minutes. Navy personnel also dropped food packets from helicopters for those stuck in high-rises. Over 10,000 people continue to be stranded on top floor and rooftops of houses in the district while 71,633 people have been rescued.

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Fishermen from Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam, Kollam and Alappuzha have joined the rescue mission in more than 100 country boats in various flood-affected areas in the state. Kerala Swanthantra Matsyathozhilali Federation has set up regional centres to coordinate the mission. Each team on the field has been assigned a leader who has been directed to work with revenue authorities, police and disaster management team.

The design of the twin-engine country boats made of wooden and fibre is expected to be really helpful in places with a strong undercurrent and unexpected flow of water.

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Meanwhile, ham (amateur) radio operators have stepped in to provide vital connectivity.

A master control room has been set up at district collectorate and amateur radio units have been deployed at three taluk offices in Mananthavady, Sultan Bathery and Vythiri. “This will act as a standby communication network if other means of connectivity fail. At present, mobile and landline networks are fine,” said district collector A R Ajayakumar.

The ham call sign of the District Emergency Operations Centre (DEOC) for flood management at collectorate is VU2PDA. The call signs for taluk offices are – Sultan Bathery (VU2JLE), Mananthavady (VU3AYR) and Vythiri (VU20J).

Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been asked by the state government to mobilize additional manpower, boats and helicopters to scale up the rescue and relief operations. Food packets and drinking water are also being rushed.

On Saturday morning, a C-17 aircraft of Air Force carrying more rescue materials including big boats and more NDRF personnel landed in Thiruvananthapuram. So far the Air Force has deployed four Mi-17 V5 and five Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH).

Several teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been working round-the-clock to evacuate hundreds of resident to safer areas and distribute relief material to the marooned people.

(With inputs from agencies)

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