Cyclone Phailin: Armed forces put on high alert

New Delhi: Defence Minister A K Antony has put the armed forces on high alert and asked them to be ready to provide all support in view of the impending cyclone Phailin, forecast to hit the Odisha and Andhra Pradesh coast on Saturday evening.
 
The IAF has deployed 24 aircraft including its transport planes such as Ilyushin-76, C-130J Super Hercules and the Antonv-32 along with 18 helicopters.
 
"The Defence Minister has directed the armed forces to be on high alert and asked them to be ready to move in for relief operations when required," a Defence Ministry official said.
 
Antony held discussions with Defence Secretary R K Mathur on the issue and has been briefed on all the steps that the armed forces would be taking to provide relief in the affected areas.
 
The Vishakhapatnam-based Eastern Naval Command has kept multiple Indian Navy diving teams with inflatable rafts in standby mode at important locations which could be put into operations at short notices.
 
"Besides these, Navy has put some Chetak and UH-3H helicopters in standby for launching rescue and relief operations, if necessary. Disaster relief ships, as required, are also being kept by the Navy in readiness," the official said.
 
Army has moved its Command and control element to Bhubneshwar under GOC Madhya Bharat (MB) Area. One Engineer column from Bagdogra and one Medical column from Gopalpur have started moving to Bhubneshwar. Infantry columns are also on standby at Barrackpore.
 
Coast Guard has sensitised state governments of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal requesting them to issue appropriate advisory to fishermen, shipping and local community.