NDRF deploys 500 personnel for relief, rescue operations

As Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal brace for cyclone Phailin, expected to hit them on Saturday evening, Defence Minister A.K. Antony has put the armed forces on high alert. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has deployed around 500 personnel to carry out relief and rescue operations.

“The Defence Minister has directed the armed forces to be on high alert and asked them to be ready to move in for relief operations when required,” an official said. The Indian Air Force has deployed 24 aircraft, including Ilyushin-76, C-130J Super Hercules and the Antonv-32, along with 18 helicopters. The Navy is ready with its fleet of choppers to carry out rescue operations, if needed.

On Friday, Mr. Antony held discussions with Defence Secretary R.K. Mathur and reviewed the preparations of the three wings of the armed forces to meet any eventuality. The Visakhapatnam-based Eastern Naval Command has kept diving teams on standby. Disaster relief ships will be pressed into action, if needed.

The Army has moved its command and control element to Bhubaneswar under the GOC Madhya Bharat Area.

NDMA in touch with States

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is in constant touch with the States and the Indian Meteorological Department. “We have deployed 23 NDRF teams with all equipment to assist the local administration, while five additional teams have been kept on standby. The Prime Minister, who is abroad, has assured all help to the States,” NDMA Vice-Chairman M. Shashidhar Reddy told journalists here.

The Central Reserve Police Force has deployed 12 teams in Andhra Pradesh and 11 in Odisha as part of NDRF mobilisation.

Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami chaired a meeting of the NDMA’s national executive council to coordinate preparedness for the cyclone. “We are better prepared than during the Uttarakhand disaster. Around 1.2 crore people are likely to be affected by the cyclone, while there will be massive damage to crops, roads and houses in coastal areas,” Mr. Goswami said.

IMD Director-General L.S. Rathore said: “Although Phailin is on the verge of being termed a super cyclone and has good resemblance to the 1999 storm, we have come to an understanding that it will not turn into a super cyclone. The storm will be around 210-220 kmph, but it is unlikely to intensify any further.”

Stating that the coastal areas would start receiving very heavy to extremely heavy rain from Friday evening, with a wind speed of 100 kmph, Mr. Rathore said it would accentuate by midnight, and by Saturday morning it would cross 150 kmph. The storm is likely to subside by October 13.

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