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India launches relief operation for tsunami-hit Indonesia


New Delhi, Oct 3 (IANS) India on Wednesday launched ‘Operation Samudra Maitri’ to assist the survivors of last week’s earthquake and consequent tsunami in Central Sulawesi province of Indonesia.

"Two IAF aircraft — a C-130J and a C-17 — carrying medical personnel and relief material flew today (Wednesday) morning for humanitarian assistance," an External Affairs Ministry statement said.

The C-130J aircraft is carrying a medical team on board along with tents and equipment to set up a field hospital. The C-17 aircraft is carrying medicines, generators, tents and water to provide immediate assistance.

"Indian naval ships INS Tir, INS Sujatha and INS Shardul have also been mobilised for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief," it said. These ships are likely to reach Central Sulawesi on October 6.

"The operation was launched after a telephonic conversation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Indonesian President Joko Widodo on October 1, and following Indonesia’s acceptance of international aid," it stated.

At least 1,347 people were killed in the devastating 7.5-magnitude earthquake and tsunami that hit Sulawesi island last Friday. The number of dead was expected to climb, officials said.

An estimated 2.4 million people were affected, 61,867 displaced and 66,000 homes destroyed, officials said.

Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Agency said hundreds of people were still feared trapped under the rubble of damaged buildings.

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