800 tourists stranded at Havelock Island in Andamans due to heavy rains, Navy sends 4 ships
Havelock Island is the largest in the chain of islands that form the Ritchie's Archipelago and belongs to the Andamans.
Port Blair: The Indian Navy on Wednesday launched a rescue operation to evacuate almost 800 tourists stranded at Havelock Island in Andaman and Nicobar Islands due to heavy rains and a storm.
Naval ships INS Bitra, Bangaram, Kumbhir and LCU 38 were deployed for evacuation and will ferry tourists to Port Blair.
The sudden evacuation mission was initiated at the request of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands disaster management, which speculates that a "cyclonic storm" might strike Havelock, an island about 36 km from capital Port Blair.
"There is a deep depression (in the sea) about 310 kms from Port Blair. That is why the Navy was contacted as we don't want to take any chances," an official from Directorate of Disaster Management, A&N administration, told IANS.
The official said that because of heavy rains and winds, the difficulty tourists are facing is to reach the jetty to board the ships.
"We can't say as of now that the depression will turn into a cyclone," the official said.
They expect the evacuation to be completed by the evening, he said.
Navy spokesperson Captain DK Sharma said the ships were in the area and that there was a bad sea state.
He said the ships departed from Port Blair around 0315 hours onwards.
Sharma said all the ships will go alongside and ferry tourists to Port Blair. Their highest consideration is the safety of the tourists.
"HADR Indian Navy swings into action to evacuate 800 stranded tourists at Havelock Island. Four ships sailed at Port Blair and in the area," the Navy spokesperson tweeted.
The meteorological department forecast "heavy to very heavy" rainfall and "rough to very rough" seas around the islands in the next 24 hours.
Havelock is the largest in the chain of islands that form the Ritchie's Archipelago and belongs to the Andamans.