An Indian Navy rescue team achieved an almost-impossible feat after it maneuvered a helicopter and landed on a roof, to rescue an 80-year-old lady who was bed ridden in Chalakudy in flood-hit Kerala on Saturday.
The team had planned to drop two Gemini boats along with 8 divers to rescue stranded people and distribute food and relief material around 6 km south west of Chalakudy town. As the Seaking 42B helicopter of the Indian Navy hovered overhead, they saw some aged people waving on a two-storey building for a pick up. Soon, up to 20 to 25 people had come out asking for help, including an old lady who was not able to board the basket that was lowered down from the chopper to winch her up.
"Having winched four people, winching another 20 was a challenging task. The crew took a call of going for a low hover to embark people," a Navy spokesperson said in a statement.
Following this, the team managed to hover lower and maneuver between trees and land on the narrow roof, thereby rescuing a total of 26 people, including the 80-year-old.
Those who were rescued were shifted along with some luggage of theirs, to the naval air base INS Garuda in Kochi.
Yup. We can land just about anywhere. That's a @indiannavy Seaking 42B on a narrow rooftop evacuating people in #KeralaFlood The story gets even more amazing. (See my next tweet) pic.twitter.com/3GPg2JC0raâ€” Shreya Dhoundial (@shreyadhoundial) August 18, 2018
The chopper was being flown by Captain P Rajkumar, a Shaurya Chakra awardee. Coincidentally, Rajkumar was bestowed with the third highest peacetime decoration of India on August 15 this year, for his work during severe cyclonic storm Ockhi in Kerala, especially for saving the life of a stranded fisherman.
"It was post sunset and the crew was at the limit of their fatigue, having flown throughout the day. Also, the aircraft had flown continuously with two hot refuelling and no Turn Round Servicing, and there was considerable risk involved in undertaking a fresh mission. However, with no regard to his safety, Capt Rajkumar took a tough call and decided to fly the life threatening mission on the stormy night of cyclone to save the solitary survivor in the raging sea. His risk was considerably enhanced by the fact that, neither the aircraft nor the crew was equipped with any Night Vision Devices," a press release from PIB had stated.
The death toll due to rains and floods in Kerala has gone up to 368, as 33 more deaths were reported on Saturday even as around 58,000 people were rescued in different parts of the state. A red alert is now there in just three districts, down from 11.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, while giving the latest figures, told the media late on Saturday that the flood relief work is going on in full swing and things are slowly coming under control and more helicopters and personnel would be engaged in the rescue and relief operations on Sunday.