A fleet of seven ships and six helicopters evacuated most of the 1,400 tourists stranded in two islands of Andamans due to cyclonic weather since Monday, officials said on Friday.
As the weather cleared in the morning, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and union territory administration started a joint evacuation drive and brought back most of the stranded tourists to Port Blair from Havelock and Neil islands.
“The remaining tourists will be shifted by tonight. All are safe and were taken care of,” an official of the Andaman and Nicobar islands said.
He said three Mi-17V-5 military transport helicopters from the Air Force and three Pawan Hans helicopters of the Union territory administration besides seven ships from Navy and administration have been regularly plying between islands for the operations.
Located about 40 km from here, Havelock and Neil are the most popular tourist attractions in the Andamans where the tourists were stranded since Monday due to torrential rains, choppy seas and heavy winds as neither aircraft nor ships could operate.
The cyclonic storm ‘Vardah’, which was lying 250 km west-northwest of Port Blair, is very likely to intensify into a severe cyclone later in the night, according to the MeT department.
Lt Governor of the islands Jagdish Mukhi said there was no untoward incident and no loss of life or property due to the inclement weather.
“We are sending all tourists back home from Port Blair according to their flight timings. We have also made arrangements for their stay here,” an official said.
Meanwhile, national carrier Air India extended the waiver period for cancellation, rescheduling and other related charges for its flight to and fro Port Blair by three more days till December 12.
Earlier On Wednesday, the Government carrier had said it has decided to waive all cancellations, rescheduling and other related charges till Friday for travel to and from Port Blair due to cyclonic weather conditions in the Andaman and Nicobar islands
“Waiver on applicable penalties of re-issuance, date change, no-show, and cancellation and refund charges has been extended for travel from/to Port Blair, The waiver is applicable for both domestic and international flights, on all tickets issued on or before December 9 for travel period during December 6 to December 12,” the airline said in a statement.
Cyclonic weather conditions caused by a severe depression over southeast Bay of Bengal, led to heavy rainfall, strong winds and rough sea conditions over the past three days. Other carriers such as Vistara, IndiGo and GoAir have have also waived all such charges for their flights to the island.
While full service carrier Vistara and GoAir have decided not to impose such charges for their flights to and fro Port Blair till December 12, IndiGo has offered the facility till December 10.