Maputo: A fleet of Indian Navy carried out rescue operation at cyclone hit southern African nation Mozambique and saved around 5,000 stranded people. The Indian Navy was the first to respond and so far no other Navy has reached.

Indian Navy ships of the first training squadron - Sujata, Sarathi and Shardul, which were operating in the southern Indian Ocean was diverted to Port Beira of Mozambique. 

The move by the Navy came after Mozambique government sent out a request for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations. 

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INS Sujata along with ICGS Sarathi arrived at Port Beira morning of March 18, while INS Shardul arrived on March 19 and are providing necessary support to the local administration.  

Post the deluge, caused by cyclone Idai, thousands of people were struck on the coast of Mozambique since March 15.

The disembarkation of HADR stores including food, medicines and clothing to the Mozambique defence authorities has been completed. Arrangements are in progress to disembark potable water.

The helicopter from INS Shardul is operating from the local airport for recce and rescue. The boats, Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boat (RHIB) and Gemini boats with divers would be used to render assistance for evacuation of marooned people.

The Indian ships are likely to set up medical camps and provide food, water, blankets and other necessary relief items.

Cyclone Idai made landfall at Beira on March 15 and caused massive damage and loss of human life in the Central and Northern provinces of the country.

According to United Nations officials, a category 4 tropical storm, which hit southern Africa, is likely the worst weather-related disaster to hit the southern hemisphere with over 1.7 million people affected in Mozambique alone.

Preliminary inputs indicate that city of Beira faced the maximum devastation with large scale damage to infrastructure. There are also reports of about 5,000 personnel marooned at Buzi near Port Beira requiring immediate evacuation.

The safe evacuation of the affected personnel by Indian ships is being coordinated in consultation with local authorities.

Defence minister of Mozambique visited Indian Naval ships to oversee the relief efforts.