New Delhi, Aug 18 (IANS) India’s indigenous helicopters were pressed into service to rescue people and extricate skimmed oil from the Japanese-owned cargo ship MV Wakashio in Mauritius.
The bulk carrier vessel, MV Wakashio, ran aground on July 25 on a reef at Pointe d’Esny in Mauritius close to its ecologically sensitive reserves and prominent tourist destinations. On August 7, the Mauritius government declared the incident a national emergency and soon after sought help from India.
HAL’s indigenous Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv and Chetak helicopters were pressed into service to carry out the rescue operations.
R. Madhavan, CMD, HAL said, “Time and again the indigenous Dhruv helicopter has proven its capabilities. Our helicopters were extensively utilised for search and rescue operations in the past as well.”
HAL helicopters flew non-stop from dawn to dusk till all the survivors on board were safely rescued.
A total of 210 cargo operations and 270 winch operations were undertaken by the HAL choppers towards salvage and rescue missions so far.
The Chetak helicopters were used primarily for winching survivors. The ALHs flew continuous missions to get the international salvage team on board the ship to contain the spill.
The HAL helicopters have flown 110 hours till now and rescued 600 persons from and to MV Wakashio.
The spill is close to two environmentally protected marine ecosystems and the Blue Bay Marine Park reserve. Nearby are a number of popular tourist beaches and mangrove plantations. Mauritius had to declare a state of environmental emergency.
A crack in the hull of the ship expanded earlier this week, leading to the ship splitting into two halves.
Dhruv is indigenously designed and developed by HAL for the military as well as civil applications.
The utility version of the Dhruv helicopter can be used for VIP travel, commuter, search and rescue, emergency medical service, underslung load, disaster relief, and offshore operations.
Dhruv helicopter is suitable for increased payload at higher altitudes and is in operation with all the three service wings.
More than 240 helicopters are operational with the Indian armed forces clocking more than 2,70,000 flying hours. India has also dispatched over 30 tonnes of technical equipment and materials to Mauritius to help the island nation.