Kochi: Eight hundred kilometre, two nights and one day, and INS Jalashwa touches Kochi shores with 698 Indians who were stranded in Maldives. Undoubtedly, The first phase of 'Samudra Setu' operation is a complete success.
The Indian Navy ship started its voyage from Male, the capital of island nation Maldives, on Friday night. The passengers praised the naval personnel aboard the warship, which had Captain Pankaj Chauhan as the commanding officer. Superlative facilities, food served on time, adequate supply of water and medicines, film night and, more importantly, strict social distancing norms were the hallmarks onboard the ship. The evacuees, including 440 Keralites and 258 people from other states, were also fortunate to view sunrise and sunset at sea.
There were 300 navy personnel, including a 15-member medical team comprising medical officer and nurses, on the ship. Two naval boats and a helicopter accompanied the warship to the port when it touched Kochi waters.
Apart from a team of revenue, police and health department officers under Ernakulam District Collector and City Police Commissioner Vijay Sakhare, customs, port and Navy officials were present at the international cruise terminal, where the ship was berthed.
The first batch of passengers disembarked at 10.15 am following the instructions given by Navy personnel in protective gears. All passengers were subjected to thermal scanning before they entered the terminal. Pregnant women, children below the age of 10, people aged above 75 and those in need of medical treatment were given preference to disembark. Cars, which had cabins inside to facilitate social distancing, ferried these passengers to their homes.
The immigration and customs scrutiny of all passengers was completed by 3 pm, and the KSRTC buses carried groups of people to quarantine centres in various districts. The bus to Tamil Nadu left the port last at 4.30 pm.
No one had any COVID-19 symptoms while aboard the ship, but thermal scanning picked two passengers with fever and they are under observation at taluk hospital.