Empty ambulance,plunging hopes

Sailors and officers trapped inside the Sindhurakshak were yet to be found till late evening

Written by Tabassum Barnagarwala | Mumbai | Published:August 15, 2013 3:36 am

An ambulance left at noon to bring casualties to the naval hospital INHS Asvini. After four hours at the naval dockyard,it returned empty.

Sailors and officers trapped inside the Sindhurakshak were yet to be found till late evening on Wednesday,a full day after it had submerged. Divers reached the first rescue hatch only in the afternoon.

The mood at the hospital sank lower and lower with every update on the television set at the reception desk,where it has set up an information cell for the sailors’ relatives. Medical staff were initially praying for survivors,though prepared for the worst. As the day progressed,they started expressing their fears. By 5.15 pm,they were preparing to receive casualties.

“It was a massive explosion,you can’t even expect anybody to come out alive. But I think the Navy will not lose hope until the search operations end,” said a medical officer.

At 9.38 pm,an officer said,“Since only one part of the submarine had exploded,we were hoping survivors rescued from other parts would arrive here. However,after 12 hours,even the oxygen level must have depleted and the chances of finding any survivors are very thin.”

The ambulance had been called back at 4 pm when search operations were stalled momentarily. A second ambulance left later in the evening,only to bring back three relatives of a sailor. A woman was weeping while the other two were consoling her

One TV update that held the entire hospital staff’s attention was when Navy chief Admiral D K Joshi spoke about the accident. Around the same time,the wardmaster instructed the driver to keep both ambulances ready. However,till 7 pm,neither of these had left the premises.

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