Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Centre has despatched Air Force helicopters to cyclone-hit West Bengal to help the local authorities in rescue and relief operations, and rushed 400 personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).

The Home Ministry asked the Sikkim government to take precautions as cyclone Aila could hit the hill State also. “Air Force helicopters have been pressed into service for supplying essential commodities and rescuing the marooned,” a Ministry official said.

The NDRF personnel are operating in South 24 Parganas and North 24 Parganas along with the Army. “The Home Ministry has assured the State government of any assistance that may be required,” the official said.

The Centre had already despatched 200 personnel of the riverine units of the BSF based in the Sundarbans, West Bengal.

“NDRF and BSF officials are in constant touch with relief commissioners of West Bengal. We are prepared and ready to meet any situation,” Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram said on Monday.