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Indian Air Force heavy-lift cargo plane flying back 7 oxygen containers from Dubai

Cryogenic oxygen containers being loaded on an IAF carrier (Pic: Courtesy Twitter/@IAF_MCC)

A heavy-lift transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force was on Monday sent to Dubai to airlift seven empty cryogenic oxygen containers, officials said. They said the C-17 aircraft has already landed in Dubai.

This follows the four cryogenic containers that were airlifted from Singapore on Sunday by an IAF transport plane.

"After loading, the aircraft will get airborne for Panagarh in West Bengal and is likely to arrive there at 5:30 pm," said an official.  The containers will be filled with oxygen at SAIL’s Durgpaur steel plant nearby where the production of medical oxygen has been ramped up.

The oxygen containers will be transported by road or rail to various hospitals once they are refilled, since containers filled with oxygen are generally not transported on board military aircraft as they are considered combustible and pose a risk to the planes.

The Indian Air Force on Friday had airlifted empty oxygen containers to various filling stations across the country and deployed its aircraft for transportation of medical personnel and medicines in helping civil authorities deal with surging COVID-19 cases.

The IAF deployed its C-17 and IL-76 heavy-lift aircraft for transportation of oxygen containers to filling stations, officials said.

Similar airlift tasks are underway across the country," the IAF tweeted.

India is struggling with a second wave of the coronavirus infection and hospitals in several states are reeling under shortage of medical oxygen and beds in view of the rising COVID-19 cases.

Steel plants ramp up oxygen output

Responding to the Centre's directive to all state-owned entities to ramp up oxygen production for meeting the acute shortage of essential gas owing to the spike in the coronavirus pandemic, Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) has enhanced oxygen production at all it steel plants. The public sector steel giant has been supplying on an average, 660 metric tonnes of liquid medical oxygen per day from its plants.

The company further added that on April 21 alone, it had supplied 891 metric tonnes of LMO across the country.

With the help of Indian Railways and Ministry of Steel, SAIL has planned to load a rake from its Bokaro Steel Plant, which will help greatly in bulk evacuation of LMO and faster arrival of the same at the destination, the company said in its statement.