January 05, 2005

Tsunami: Indian armed forces UAV's to locate bodies

Tsunami : UAVs being used to locate bodies by Indian armed forces

With people in thousands still reported missing following the devastating tidal waves in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Indian armed forces have pressed into service Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in the affected mainland and in outlying island territories to locate bodies.

"We are utilising UAV's in Kerala also to find bodies deeply buried in jungles and urban areas", Defence Ministry officials here said.

He said sniffer dog squads had also been flown to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands to help in locating the bodies. Authorities estimate that more than 5,000 people were still missing in the islands many of which are yet to be reached even five days after the catastrophy.

The use of UAV's and sniffer dogs to hunt for missing people was announced as authorities said that evacuation of people from the threatened southern Nicobar Islands and in some coastal belts on the mainland was continuing with so far over 15,000 people having been shifted to safer places.

Officials said that air reconnaissance of the remote islands was continuing as Naval and Air Force aircraft continued airdropping of foods and other relief supplies on the Kamorata group of islands in the Andamam Sea.

They said army units deployed in Car Nicobar were setting up relief camps, restoring water points and setting up medical camps for treatment of patients.

Army officials said that 5,000 tents, 250 generator sets, some heavy and medium vehicles had been moved to worst affected Car Nicobar island where water points were being recommissioned.

He said that one Giant IL-76m 10 An-32, 4 Droniers and a number of helicopters had mounted relief and rescue mission in the island territories with supply stocks being built up at Carnic Air Station and Campbell Bay.

The officials said over 400 tonnes of relief material had been distributed in Car Nicobar and other southern islands, where the Navy was operating a 120-bed hospital from the warship INS Magar.

Besides this, the Navy was also operating ten medical camps in Tamil Nadu, while army engineers had made the Karaikal bridge operational again. The Army has set up relief camps in Nagapattinam, Karaikal, Kanchipuram and Cuddalore.

The Coastguard had also set up similar relief camps at Pulical and Pondicherry, they said.

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