CHENNAI -- After calling off the sorties two days ago, the Indian Air Force yesterday wound up its rescue operations here, during which it aerially transported hundreds of rain-hit people to safety.
With water-level receding days after the torrential rains ponded the capital, Chennai has slowly begun to pick up its pieces, even as it stares a mountain of garbage and possible outbreak of diseases, in its face.
The state government had asked the IAF to conclude its week-long rescue and relief operations which were undertaken amid challenging weather conditions.
The IAF had responded swiftly to the flood crisis in the Chennai region, commencing operations at dawn on December 2 even as the rains continued.
"We have deployed all our assets needed for the operations and weather is the only bottleneck," a top IAF official, heading the entire operations had said on December 3.
Tambaram Air Base, 30 kms outside of Chennai and Arakkonam Naval Base, 70 kms west of the capital city, served as the nodal points for the entire operations during which hundreds of college students were rescued and 4-5 pregnant women were also airlifted.
IAF's pressed into service its best, including C-17, C-130, IL-76 and AN-32 and flew over 40 sorties.
The Air force airlifted 30 National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) teams and five Indian Army columns into the affected areas.
These aircraft also evacuated 770 stranded civilian passengers to Bangalore, Hyderabad and Delhi. Also, 281 tonnes of relief material was airlifted, including suction pumps and boats, an IAF statement said.
Meanwhile, the Indian Army said it has over 70 teams along with 57 BAUTS (medium sized boats) and 16 geminis (small boats) in Tamil Nadu undertaking relief operations in co-ordination with the civil administration.
These teams have rescued more than 19,600 stranded people. Army medical teams have provided medical aid in various parts of Chennai to 14,600 people.
So far, the Army has distributed over 1,25,000 relief packets provided by the state government and some NGOs besides those from within own resources, it said.
The relief teams along with medical teams of the Army are also located at Cuddalore and Bhuvanagiri for assistance as required by the state administration.
The focus has now shifted to relief operations to include distribution of relief material and administration of medical assistance.
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