With roads opening, helicopter relief ops to dwindle in Kerala


New Delhi, The incessant whirring of the rotors of around 65 helicopters engaged in rescue and relief operations from INS Garuda naval air station in flood-ravaged Kerala is likely to cease from tomorrow, an official said.

The helicopters in operation belong to the Air Force, Coast Guard, Navy and Army Aviation, the official said.

“The five army aviation choppers operating from INS Garuda will shift to another location on August 24,” the official said.

The choppers were in operation when most roads were submerged and only bridges were seen. In the first three days, the emphasis was on rescue and later it shifted to providing relief, although in many cases, both types of operations continued, he said.

“Army Aviation operates mostly in north India and the North-East. It was asked to move some of its elements to Kerala as the situation was grim, with many villages fully cut off and stagnant water not receding,” he said.

“Many people are still staying in make-shift camps, temples, churches, community spaces and are dependent on helicopters for essential supplies like food, drinking water and medicines. With collapse of infrastructure like bridges and roads, the only hope was boats and helicopters,” he said.

“INS Garuda (in Kochi) is from where all rescue and coordination is being carried out in north Kerala for the past week. Two Dorniers (fixed-wing aircraft working as `aerial air traffic control’) have been flying overhead, guiding all helicopter traffic and coordination in air,” he said.