Pune/ Kochi: A total of 1,500 soldiers from Army's Southern Command rescued over 12,500 people during the recent floods in Kerala. Meanwhile the Navy rescued nearly 17,000 people caught in the gushing waters in the flood-ravaged State, a Defence spokesperson stated.
Army columns in action in 12 districts of Kerala
The worst floods in the state in over 100 years led to a grim situation needing the Indian Army to be requisitioned by the State government for rescue and relief operations. Troops from the Pune-headquartered Southern Command were initially called in the northern districts of Kannur and Wayanad on the night of August 8/9. As the situation worsened in rest of the state, more Army columns were requisitioned and pressed into service.
“In anticipation of the developing situation, Headquarters Southern Command had kept its specialist rescue columns on standby beside staging forward the critical elements closer to Kerala to cut down on the reaction time. Leading up to August 15, an additional increment of rescue columns was flown in from Pune, Jodhpur, Bhopal, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. The Indian Army columns were operating in 12 districts of Kerala and Kodagu district of Karnataka in these trying circumstances.
In standing up to the mammoth challenge of rescuing people and saving lives, most columns worked round-the-clock for almost a week with utter disregard to their own personal comfort and safety,” Army said in a statement.
Navy’s ‘Op Madad’ a success
The Navy personnel who were part of the rescue mission codenamed ‘Op Madad’ in Kerala, displayed their skills and courage in rescuing thousands of people, Commander Sridhar Warrier, the spokesperson in Kochi, said.
In all, the Indian Navy rescued a total of 16,843 people, of which 1,173 were airlifted while 15,670 were rescued by teams using Gemini boats after Kerala experienced unprecedented rainfall, which resulted in widespread flooding, he added.
“Such was their efficiency that in fact, no deaths by drowning were reported in any area where Naval teams systematically organised their rescue efforts,” he said.
“Once the resources available with the Southern Naval Command in terms of Gemini boats and divers were found to be falling short, additional resources were sought and promptly received from other Naval commands,” Warrier said.
SNC Headquarters coordinated with the Air Force headquarters for the airlift of personnel and equipment from Mumbai and Visakhapatnam to Kochi.
Concerted efforts to save lives
The focus of the operations was four-fold, that is to rescue stranded people from marooned areas, provide temporary connectivity by construction of bridges, administer medical aid to the sick and wounded besides assisting the civil administration in distributing relief material.
The Headquarters Southern Command also flew in divers from the Special Forces for rescuing people in high-risk areas where the water had submerged the entire area. “Once the rescue operations were under control, the focus on providing relief and medical aid was very quickly met by moving Quick Reaction Medical Teams to the affected areas. Particularly noteworthy had been the determination of a medical team operating in Idukki district wherein they moved on foot for over a day to reach the inaccessible village of Kudi to provide medical aid to the affected people,” the statement reads.
Extremely well-coordinated actions by the columns and the planning staff at various Headquarters ensured that maximum people marooned in remote inaccessible areas were rescued in time. The 1,500 Army personnel grouped in 100-odd Army teams rescued more than 12,500 people, provided medical aid to almost 7,000 people, constructed more than 30 temporary bridges in perilous conditions besides clearing landslides at numerous places in the flood-affected districts.
“With the rescue operations now nearing completion, most of the columns have wrapped up their operations. The only component of Indian Army left in these operations is a team of doctors and other assistant medical staff, who have established an ad-hoc hospital in Ernakulam district to help the state government in providing medical aid to one of the worst affected areas of Kerala. The other medical teams have also commenced their journey back to the bases after having augmented the efforts of the state government in providing medical aid,” the Army said. (With Agency inputs)