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We are at war in Andamans: IAF chief
January 04, 2005 18:33 IST
While referring to the tsunami disaster, the new chief of air staff, Air Chief Marshal S Tyagi, on Tuesday said what "we are up against is virtually a war. A war maybe against nature. But it is a war".
After visiting the Car Nicobar Island, he also ruled out the possibility of relocating the Indian Air Force base there.
The air chief, however, said some of the officers' quarters would be relocated. "We have asked for land in higher areas from the civil administration. We have also identified some areas. We also require land in Port Blair."
The IAF "has taken up rescue operations at many places in the past, but I don't think we have handled a situation of such a magnitude earlier", he said.
"The situation is very difficult here. It is a very big challenge."
The IAF chief said the runway of the airfield at Car Nicobar, damaged by the tsunami, would be repaired within two weeks.
Meanwhile, the IAF ferried six medium haul MI-17 helicopters to Car Nicobar via Myanmar to start evacuating a large number of people still reported to be marooned on the Great Nicobar Island.
"The six helicopters used the shorter Myanmar route as their airlift by giant IL-76 transport aircraft would have hit the movement of relief supplies to the islands," Air Marshal S Mallik, vice chief of air staff, said in New Delhi.
He said with this, the number of choppers on Car Nicobar would touch ten and this would enable the armed forces to launch a sustained rescue operation in the Great Nicobar and outlying islands.
He said there could be a pause in the relief flights undertaken by the joint IL-76/78 aircraft as the runway at Car Nicobar required repairs.