In the aftermath of the devastation caused by severe Cyclone 'Fani', the Eastern Naval Command of the Indian Navy has launched a massive rescue and rehabilitation effort in Odisha.
Two Maritime Recce sorties were undertaken by the Dornier aircraft of the Navy revealing widespread destruction localised around the temple town of Puri, according to an official statement.
The Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Naval Command personally undertook aerial survey of the cyclone affected area Saturday morning and visited INS Chilka to review the relief efforts, it said.
The extremely severe cyclonic storm, which made landfall at Puri on Friday, unleashed copious rain and windstorm that gusted up to 200 kmph, blowing away thatched roofs of houses, swamping towns and villages, before weakening and entering West Bengal, officials said.
Based on the aerial surveys, the Eastern Naval Command is undertaking a three-pronged rescue and rehabilitation effort centred around Puri and its suburbs in coordination with the state government and the district administration.
"Relief and rehabilitation 'bricks' and 'pallets' (Naval parlance for containerised relief stores) comprising food material, essential medical supplies, clothing items, disinfectants, repair material, chain saws for removing damaged trees, torches and batteries, etc have been sent to the INS Chilka, a naval establishment at Odisha, closest to Puri," it said.
The Naval Officer-in-Charge (Odisha) is centrally coordinating distribution of these relief materials and a community kitchen is being planned to be set up.
Simultaneously, three eastern fleet ships are undertaking rescue and rehabilitation efforts.
Indian Navy ships Ranvijay, Kadmatt and Airavat with three helicopters are presently operating off Puri and coordinating aerial survey and immediate response through their integral helicopters.
As the first responders, helicopters from the ships have been able to provide immediate support. In order to coordinate the relief efforts, the Eastern Naval Command has pre-positioned Liaison teams in cyclone affected areas around Puri, who in turn are directing the rescue and relief efforts being undertaken by the ships, the statement added.
"With the likely opening of the Bhubaneshwar airport today, Chetak and UH3H helicopters are being positioned there by the Navy to launch rescue efforts and air-dropping of relief material to the inaccessible and remote areas.
"The deployment of the helicopters at Bhubaneshwar would enable aerial rescue of stranded personnel to safer areas as well as access to areas without road connectivity," it said.
The statement said that in order to sustain the rescue and relief work over the next few days, the Eastern Naval Command has additional ships with standby relief material.
The death toll due to the calamity, which stood at eight on Friday, mounted to 12 with four fresh casualties reported from Mayurbhanj district in Odisha, the officials said, adding that detailed information from many areas was still awaited.