PORT BLAIR: Nearly 1400 tourists, presently stranded on Neil and Havelock Islands in the Andamans, are getting increasingly worried as weathermen have forecast that a depression lying 260 km west-northwest of Car Nicobar and 310 km south-southwest of Port Blair would intensify into a deep depression in the next 24 hours and into a cyclone storm in the subsequent 24.
As per the India Meteorological Department (IMD), heavy rains are forecaset over the Andaman islands with wind speeds of 40-50 km gusting to 60 km in the next 48 hours.
As operation of ships and helicopters has been suspended since Dec. 5, the worst-affected islands in the Andamans remain Havelock and Neil Islands, both tourist hotspots.
According to the civil administration, at present nearly 400 tourists are stranded on Neil Island and more than 1000 tourists on Havelock Island.
“About 1400 tourists are unable to return to Port Blair. The local population of 10 villages on Havelock and Neil Islands have also been severely affected by the cyclone which has hampered the movement of essential supplies,” deputy commissioner of South Andamans, Udit Prakash Rai informed the media on Wednesday.
Considering the gravity of the situation, the district administration has declared the cyclone as an L1 disaster.
The Andaman and Nicobar Command, India’s first tri-service joint command, has sent four Navy ships to Havelock Island to bring back the stranded tourists. But due to rough weather the ships could not berth at Havelock Jetty.
Reports say that due to cyclonic weather conditions two speedboats, MV Strait Island and MV Katchal have taken shelter at two different ports.
As per reports, MV Strait Island has taken shelter at Mayabunder Port whereas MV Katchal has taken shelter at Long Island Port.
It is learnt that MV Strait Island which was scheduled to sail up to Diglipur with only a few passengers will return to Port Blair on Thursday and will not touch Diglipur Port.
Meanwhile, the director of shipping services (DSS), Capt (IN) Rajinder Kumar informed the media that the DSS is trying to bring back the vessels safely provided the weather improves a bit.
“Sheltering a boat is the decision of the master of the ship looking at the safety of the boat and the passengers,” the DSS said.
By evening the local administration declared a holiday for all schools and colleges of the Andmans and Nicobar Islands on Thursday.