Since Monday (Dec 18), the Indian Tri-services (Army, Navy, Air Force) and Coast Guard have rescued more than 1,000 persons, including pregnant women, infants and elderly from the floods in south Tamil Nadu. Four districts in southern Tamil Nadu – Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi, Tenkasi and Kanyakumari had received unprecedented amounts of rainfall during the weekend as well as Monday.

It is estimated that the worst-hit districts of Thoothukudi and Tirunelveli received their entire quantum of annual rainfall in a span of two days. It is under such circumstances that the Tamil Nadu Government sought the assistance of the Indian armed forces, Coast Guard and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).  

The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) had deployed ICG Ship Sujay, with an onboard helicopter, well before the heavy rainfall began. Later, as the flood situation started affecting the districts, the ICG enhanced its presence by deploying a fixed-wing Dornier maritime patrol aircraft and two Advanced Light Helicopters of the latest Mark 3 variant, to undertake relief operations.

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Seven ICG disaster relief teams with rescue boats and essential aid, continue to provide succour to the affected population. ICG teams have rescued more than 200 persons, at the time of writing. 

Operating from the Madurai Airport, an IAF Mi-17V5 chopper and four ALH choppers undertook humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations. In all, the helicopters flew 22 hours on Tuesday and air dropped more than 10 tonnes of supplies. The relief team also rescued four persons including one pregnant lady and a 17-month-old baby, who were winched into the chopper and flown to Madurai. 

The Indian Navy has positioned two Dornier planes at Madurai airport to transport relief material to Thoothukudi Airport. The Navy planes have transported more than 400 kg of relief material and plan to ferry more than 3.5 tonnes of material to Thoothukudi airport on Wednesday. Two flood relief teams of the Navy have been deployed in the affected regions and continue to distribute relief material and carry out evacuations.

In addition to this, the Navy’s Advanced Light Helicopters and First Response Teams are being continuously deployed to render assistance to the affected people. Notably, the Indian Navy chopper dropped 150 kg of food and essential supplies for the train passengers (approx 800 persons) stranded at Srivaikundam railway station in the Tuticorin district.

The Indian Army’s Dakshin Bharat Area, under the Southern Command, has deployed teams from 23 Maratha Light Infantry and Madras Regimental Center to carry out relief measures. Operating in the flooded district of Thoothukudi, the Army personnel assisted over 150 people (including a pregnant woman and 19 children including 3 infants) in moving to safe zones well past the sunset. Similarly, 400 persons were rescued and provided basic medical care and food. 

Several areas in the flooded districts remain cut off and roads have been washed away. The forces involved in the rescue are deploying suitable assets (helicopters, inflatable boats) to reach those in need and offer relief.

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