Indian vice-admiral Anil Chawla met Consul Anish Rajan at the Durban offices on Friday.   Picture: NKULULEKO NENE
Indian vice-admiral Anil Chawla met Consul Anish Rajan at the Durban offices on Friday. Picture: NKULULEKO NENE

India’s navy to aid Mozambique after Cyclone Idai destruction

By nkululeko nene and shannon ebrahim Time of article published Mar 24, 2019

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Durban - Humanitarian aid has poured in from near and far to assist the victims of Cyclone Idai. Indian vice-admiral Anil Kumar Chawla and his crew were on their way to Durban when they were diverted to Mozambique to provide relief.

Speaking at the Indian Consulate’s offices in Durban on Friday, where Chawla met Consul Anish Rajan, he described the situation in Beira as dire.

Fortunately, its three ships, Shardul, Sujata and Saralthi, were fully equipped to assist.

“After facing about two such disasters in our own country, we always carry the kit with us when sailing.

“We provide food and medical help to victims. We have doctors on board, and our ships are loaded with ready-to-eat meals, clothes and medical supplies. We also have helicopters on board to assist during emergencies,” he said.

Chawla said the ships were part of the squadron which trained the country’s young cadets for its navy.

He said the visit was scheduled as part of the training curriculum.

“But after the massive cyclone hit Beira, that diverted our journey. The government of Mozambique requested help. India’s government directed us to Beira. We got there just a day after the cyclone hit.”

The admiral said medical help was urgently required and they had to set up camps in Beira and on outlying islands.

“More than a thousand people were treated after suffering illnesses in the aftermath of the disaster - diarrhoea, cuts, injuries.

“Our helicopters helped evacuate people from areas that were not accessible with the main roads eroded,” Chawla said.

Meanwhile, KwaZulu-Natal-based rescue service IPSS also offered help.

Paul Herbst was among a team of eight people who left Durban last week to assist in Mozambique. They flew back on Thursday night, having left their vehicles because the roads had been washed away.

He said he expected more bodies to be recovered. “Some bodies are still being found.

“We had to endure nine days of trauma. It was difficult to get to the victims after seven main roads were swept away by floods,” Herbst said.

He said the terrain was bad, but they managed to get to Basa airport by driving on a gravel road.

“All the rescues were undertaken in difficult conditions, with storm, wind and massive rain,” he said.

The teams included personnel from Rescue Team, Rescue Care, Rescue SA and the University of South Africa.

Sunday Tribune

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