Indian Navy deploys seven warships to bring liquid oxygen from abroad

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New Delhi, May 1 (PTI) The Indian Navy has deployed seven warships to bring oxygen-filled cryogenic containers from abroad as hospitals across India continued to face a severe shortage of medical oxygen in view of mounting cases of COVID-19 infections.

The ships which are deployed to bring liquid oxygen and associated medical equipment from abroad under operation 'Samudra Setu II' are Kolkata, Kochi, Talwar, Tabar, Trikand, Jalashwa and Airavat, officials said.

The Navy launched the operation at a time hospitals in Delhi and several other states and union territories are running out of oxygen, triggering a healthcare crisis. Twelve people, including a doctor, died at Delhi's Batra Hospital on Saturday after it allegedly ran out of medical oxygen.

The Indian Navy said INS Talwar is bringing 40 metric tonnes of liquid medical oxygen from Manama in Bahrain while INS Kolkata has proceeded to Doha to collect medical supplies. The ship will subsequently leave for Kuwait to bring liquid oxygen tanks.

Similarly, on the eastern seaboard, INS Airavat is scheduled to bring oxygen from Singapore while INS Jalashwa is standing by to bring medical stores at a short notice.

'The second batch of ships comprising Kochi, Trikand and Tabar mission deployed in the Arabian Sea have also been diverted to join the national effort. From the Southern Naval Command, the landing ship tank INS Shardul is being readied to join the operation within 48 hours,' the Navy said in a statement.

Officials said the Navy has the capability to deploy more ships when the need arises to further the nation's fight against COVID-19.

'It is pertinent that the ships are combat-ready and capable of meeting any contingency in keeping with the attributes of versatility of sea power,' the Navy said.

Last year, the Indian Navy had launched Operation Samudra Setu as part of the Vande Bharat evacuation mission under which it brought back around 4,000 stranded Indians from the Maldives, Sri Lanka and Iran.

In the last few days, the Indian Air Force airlifted from abroad 47 oxygen containers with a total capacity of 830 metric tonnes to augment oxygen supply and distribution infrastructure in the country.

The IAF brought empty tanks as containers filled with oxygen are highly combustible and may pose a risk to its planes As India battles a devastating second wave of coronavirus pandemic, countries around the world have announced sending medical supplies including oxygen-related equipment to help it tide over the situation.

The leading countries that have announced assistance to India include the US, Russia, France, Germany, Australia, Ireland, Belgium, Romania, Luxembourg, Singapore, Portugal, Sweden, New Zealand, Kuwait and Mauritius. PTI MPB NSD NSD