Thousands rescued after tropical cyclone Vardah hits eastern India


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A FLEET of ships and helicopters have been used to evacuate 2775 tourists, including many foreigners, stranded due to a cyclonic storm off eastern India.

The tourists were stuck on Havelock and Neil islands as the storm, known as Vardah, developed over the Bay of Bengal. The islands are part of the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago.

Officials said on Saturday the number of stranded was higher than the initial estimate of 1400 as rescue personnel found more tourists during the operation launched on Friday.

“The evacuation involving eight ships and seven helicopters continued overnight and was completed on Saturday morning. All tourists are safe and taken care of,” regional disaster management chief Raajiv Yaduvanshi said.

About 350 foreign nationals — including Germans, Italians and Russians — were among the tourists. Those evacuated were brought to the archipelago’s main city of Port Blair.

Vardah caused heavy flooding and disrupted power supplies at several places, local media reported. The latest weather bulletin said the storm had developed into a severe cyclone and was moving toward the Indian mainland. The archipelago, a popular tourist destination 1200km off the mainland, comprises 500 islands of which just 34 are permanently inhabited.

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