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Tuesday, Dec 28, 2004

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Coast Guard, Navy on their toes

By R.K. Radhakrishnan

CHENNAI, DEC. 27. Coast Guard helicopters today brought ashore as many as seven bodies from the bay as search and rescue operations continued today.

The helicopters were operated north of Chennai and from Pondicherry and beyond to look for survivors or bodies. "We did not find any survivors today. We have also moved a ship from Vizag with a helicopter to operate south of the Godavari for rescue operations," said U. Chitnavis, Eastern region commander of the Coast Guard.

Commodore Chitnavis said that Point Calimere was still submerged and the Coast Guard were also operating in the vicinity. They were also searching for fishing boats that did not report back after venturing out yesterday, he told The Hindu .

Also, seven Coast Guard ships in the Bay had been ordered to move towards the shore to aid in the search and rescue operations. It was also providing medical relief along the coast to the people affected by the tsunami catastrophe.

The Navy has named its disaster relief operations "madad" (help) on both the coasts. The Naval Officer in-charge, Tamil Nadu, Thayi Hari, coordinates the efforts. The naval ships Ranjit, Kirch, Ranvijay, Sharab, Khukri and Khanjar, besides all the ships of the Tamil Nadu naval flotilla, have been pressed into service. In addition, both the forces have been ferrying relief material to the affected areas as and when the civic administration requests them to do so.

Naval divers have been deployed at various identified critical spots to help rescue the marooned and also transport bodies. Both the forces are also working overtime to ensure that the Chennai and other ports are safe for operations.

The local Army Area Command has rushed a company column of the MEG from Bangalore to Nagapattinam. Another company column of the 7 JAKRIF has been assisting the civil administration in relief operations at Kalpakkam since Sunday.

In addition, engineers and medical experts have been flown to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Sri Lanka.

The Air Force Station, Tambaram, which is connected with its sister base in the Nicobar islands through a high frequency wireless communication, is coordinating the dispatch of relief from here to the island.

Tupolov 142 M, the reconnaissance aircraft, flew over Nicobar from the Arakkonam naval air station, INS Rajali, to assess the extent of damage to the facilities in the various islands.

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