India's friendly foreign countries - Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Nigeria, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia - participated as observers in a joint humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) exercise conducted for the first time in Chennai.

The annual exercise conducted for both Tamil Nadu and Puducherry was held to refine standard operating procedures in disaster relief operations and to ensure all agencies work in unison when disasters occur.

According to Navy, ASEAN secretariat also took part in the three-day exercise (August 2-4) which was officially inaugurated here on Friday.

"Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Nigeria, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia took part in the exercise as observers and shared their expertise," a Navy official told PTI.

The Tamil Nadu government showed keen interest in conducting the exercise this year in Chennai, he added.

As part of the multi-service exercise, a skill demonstration was held on Saturday in which relief, salvage, port clearance, pollution response, search and rescue operations were showcased by various agencies.

The 40-minute demonstration included a Indian navy's Dornier aircraft taking out an aerial survey, multi-utility Chetak helicopter wet-winching, while an Indian Air Force MI-17 V5 helicopter showcasing its Bambi bucket skills targeting forest fires.

The exercise was coordinated by the Flag Officer Commanding Tamil Nadu & Puducherry Naval Area's (FOTNA) Eastern Naval Command under the aegis of Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff (HQIDS).

Apart from skill demonstration, the exercise includes a seminar, table-top exercise, exhibition and a final exercise in different locations in coastal districts of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

Last year, the exercise was conducted in Kochi.