Friday, 9 December 2016

INDIA: 1,900 Tourists Stuck In Andamans

According to administrative officials, an estimated 1,900 tourists are stranded on the two islands — 1,200 at Havelock and 700 at Neil right now.

Havelock and Neil, almost 40km from Port Blair, are among the most popular tourist spots in the Andamans. They are also the worst hit due to cyclonic weather conditions caused by a severe depression over southeast Bay of Bengal, which led to heavy rainfall, strong winds and rough sea conditions over the past three days.

Navy teams had tried to mount rescue operations thrice in the past two days for evacuating the tourists, but extreme weather conditions proved to be abottleneck. "Extremely strong winds and choppy seas have stalled rescue operations. However, we are monitoring the situation as well as the weather conditions. All tourists are safe on the islands," said Udipt Prakash Rai, deputy commissioner, south Andamans.

All the 125 resorts and hotels at Havelock and an estimated 60 in Neil are full to capacity. Although officials say that there is enough food and water to cater to all those stranded on the islands and hotel owners have been told to provide everyone with free food, there were reports of supplies depleting fast in hotels.

What is worrying those whose friends or relatives are stranded is that communication ties have snapped because of mobile networks being down. Electricity is generator-run on the islands and a further cause of concern is whether diesel stocks will hold on. "The tourism and meteorological departments could have been more responsible by giving early alerts to the travellers," said AB Bhat, a tourist from Madhya Pradesh whose relatives are stuck at Havelock.

With an alert sounded by the administration regarding bad weather from five in the morning till 12 noon on Friday, chances of speedy evacuation remained dim for those waiting for an end to the ordeal. Meanwhile, at Port Blair, there was a rush among tourists to get out from the islands.