In the aftermath of the devastation caused by severe cyclone 'Fani', the Eastern Naval Command of the Indian Navy has launched a massive rescue and rehabilitation effort in Odisha.
Two Maritime Recce sorties were undertaken by the Dornier aircraft of the Navy revealing widespread destruction localised around the temple town of Puri, according to an official statement.
The Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Naval Command personally undertook aerial survey of the cyclone affected area Saturday morning and visited INS Chilka to review the relief efforts, it said.
The 'extremely severe' cyclonic storm, which made landfall at Puri on Friday, unleashed copious rain and windstorm that gusted up to 200 kmph, blowing away thatched roofs of houses, swamping towns and villages, before weakening and entering West Bengal, officials said.
Based on the aerial surveys, the Eastern Naval Command is undertaking a three-pronged rescue and rehabilitation effort centred around Puri and its suburbs in coordination with the state government and the district administration.
"Relief and rehabilitation 'bricks' and 'pallets' (Naval parlance for containerised relief stores) comprising food material, essential medical supplies, clothing items, disinfectants, repair material, chain saws for removing damaged trees, torches and batteries, etc have been sent to the INS Chilka, a naval establishment at Odisha, closest to Puri," it said.
The Naval Officer-in-Charge (Odisha) is centrally coordinating distribution of these relief materials and a community kitchen is being planned to be set up.
Simultaneously, three eastern fleet ships are undertaking rescue and rehabilitation efforts.
Indian Navy ships Ranvijay, Kadmatt and Airavat with three helicopters are presently operating off Puri and coordinating aerial survey and immediate response through their integral helicopters.
As the first responders, helicopters from the ships have been able to provide immediate support. In order to coordinate the relief efforts, the Eastern Naval Command has pre-positioned Liaison teams in the cyclone affected areas around Puri, who in turn are directing the rescue and relief efforts being undertaken by the ships, the statement added.
"With the likely opening of the Bhubaneswar airport today, Chetak and UH3H helicopters are being positioned there by the Navy to launch rescue efforts and air-dropping of relief material to the inaccessible and remote areas.
"The deployment of the helicopters at Bhubaneswar would enable aerial rescue of stranded personnel to safer areas as well as access to areas without road connectivity," it said.
The statement said in order to sustain the rescue and relief work over the next few days, the Eastern Naval Command has additional ships with standby relief material.
The death toll due to the calamity, which stood at eight on Friday, mounted to 12 with four fresh casualties reported from Odisha's Mayurbhanj district, the officials said, adding that detailed information from many areas was still awaited.
Vice Admiral Karambir Singh, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command made an urgent Disaster Assesment and On site Review in the wee hours of 04 May 19, post striking of Extremely Severe Cyclone ‘FANI' at Indian Naval Base, INS Chilka, the premier training establishment of the Indian Navy, said Navy spokesperson Captain D K Sharma
"The Flag Officer took an on ground stock of the situation and damage to the assets, men and material during his approximately one-hour long visit to the location. The Admiral commended the Staff for their proactive preparatory activities to mitigate effects of the cyclone. He was happy to take note of the various Relief Operations and Medical Assistance being rendered by the unit to the neighbouring villages such as Gadadwar, Amritpur, Kharibandh and Athrawati," he said .
Singh also expressed confidence that the Naval Base would make an early come back to normalcy in the next few days.
"He also hoped that the Indian Navy's efforts in providing assistance would augment the efforts of other government agencies to bring solace to the affected people of Odisha. He also shared that Naval Ships were already at sea off Puri to render any Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Assistance, as necessary," Sharma said.
Vice Admiral Karambir Singh as the next Chief of Indian Navy. Singh, Flag Officer Commanding in Chief (FOC-in-C) East, will be the first helicopter pilot of the Indian Navy to become Chief Naval Staff.