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Cyclone Idai: India reaches out to Mozambique

Helping hand: Navy officials unloading relief material from INS Sujata at Port Beira in Mozambique.

Helping hand: Navy officials unloading relief material from INS Sujata at Port Beira in Mozambique.  

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Navy joins in rescuing the cyclone-hit.

The Indian Navy had launched a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operation in coordination with local officials to evacuate about 5,000 people stranded at Buzi near Port Beira in Mozambique, a Navy officer said on Tuesday.

The African nation has been devastated by tropical cyclone Idai.

Act as anchor

“Large fishing boats provided by Mozambique acted as anchor midway across the channel. Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat (RHIB) and Gemini boats on our ships will transport personnel from shore to the fishing boats to be transported to the Beira side,” a defence official said, giving details of the operation.

The smaller RHIB and Gemini boats were employed as the Navy ships and local fishing boats could not enter the channel due to depth restrictions. Helicopter operations were also planned to assist the rescue efforts.

“Ships of First Training squadron of Indian Navy, Sujata, Sarathi and Shardul, operating in Southern Indian Ocean were diverted to Port Beira in Mozambique based on the request of the Government of Mozambique,” the Navy officer said. Navy ships provided food, clothes, medicine and potable water to the affected people. The ships also have three medical practitioners and five nurses to provide immediate medical help. The helicopter on INS Shardul is operating from the local airport for recce and search and rescue, the Navy officer said.

Worst disaster

According to United Nations officials, cyclone Idai, a category 4 tropical storm, which hit southern Africa, is likely the worst weather-related disaster to hit the southern hemisphere with over 1.7 million people affected in Mozambique alone.

The Defence Minister of Mozambique visited the ships before the operation commenced. The Indian Navy was the first to respond and so far no other Navy has reached, one official stated.

In 2017, India provided $10 million for food grains after Mozambique suffered food shortage as a result of natural calamities. The Navy has made HADR assistance a major tool of its foreign cooperation initiative in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) which has a high incidence of natural disasters.

Officials said the city of Beira had been badly hit with infrastructure completely destroyed and there was no Internet and mobile connectivity in the city.

The Mozambique government said 6,00,000 people had been affected and the death toll could likely be in hundreds as large areas had been submerged in Beira, the capital of Sofala province.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 1:05:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/cyclone-idai-india-reaches-out-to-mozambique/article26583775.ece

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