The death toll due to Cyclone Ockhi rose to 12 on Friday as heavy rains continued to batter coastal areas of Kerala and south Tamil Nadu, crippling normal life. As many as 218 fishermen from Kerala who were left stranded in the sea off the coast due to the unpleasant weather conditions triggered by the Cyclone, have been rescued and brought safely to the shore, according to a PTI report.
The Tamil Nadu government has said that over 1,200 persons have been affected by the cyclone in Kanyakumari and Tirunelveli districts of the state. According to an official release, a total number of 1,044 persons are staying in 16 relief camps in Kanyakumari while 205 people are staying in two camps in Tirunelveli.
Earlier in the day, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edapaddi K Palaniswami took stock of the situation and announced an ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh to the kin of five people who died in rain-related incidents in Kanyakumari district. At least 22 fishermen are reportedly missing in the district till now.
During a review meeting held in Chennai, CM Palaniswami has asked officials to expedite all works undertaken in the affected areas, even as scores of personnel have been deployed to address various issues, including restoring the power network.
Two NDRF teams and seven of the state disaster response agency have been deputed to expedite relief works in worst affected Kanyakumari district. As per reports, a low-pressure system over the South Andaman Sea is also expected to turn into a depression in the next 48 hours, which may bring more rain to Tamil Nadu.
Regional Meteorological Centre Director S Balachandran said, “A well marked low pressure is lying over South Andaman Sea and its neighbourhood. It is expected to concentrate into a depression in the next 48 hours.”
READ | What is cyclone Ockhi?
He added, “In the next 24 hours, more rain is expected in most places in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. Heavy rainfall can be expected in Nilgiris, Coimbatore, Theni and Dindigul.”
In Kerala, official sources have issued orders to evacuate people from low lying areas of various islands including Kalpeni, Minicoy, Kavaratti, Agatti, Androth, Kadamath and Amini in the Union Territory of Lakshadweep as there is a possibility of “huge waves” occurring 10 km off the state’s coast till tomorrow evening.
Lakshadweep MP P P Mohammed Faizal said Kalpeni and Minicoy islands were badly hit by the cyclone but no casualties have been reported. He said, seven persons were rescued from a sinking Uru, a large Dhow-type wooden ship, in the sea off Kavaratti. The MP further said that he held telephonic talks with Home Minister Rajnath Singh who assured him that a team of officials from the ministry will be sent to assess the damage.
According to the Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s office, apart from bringing 218 stranded fishermen safely to the shore, the Indian Navy along with Indian Air Force and Indian Coast Guard have spotted and provided food and rescue kits to 38 other fishing boats stranded in the mid-sea. Efforts to locate the other boats in the sea were going on, the CMO added. It also said that the government medical colleges and general hospitals in Kerala have been kept ready to provide necessary treatment to fishermen brought to the shore.
As per Kerala government sources, the state has opened 29 relief camps in various places and a total of 2755 people, from 491 families are in these camps. The chief minister has also requested the defence ministry to deploy more aircraft for rescue operations in view of the cyclonic storm moving towards Lakshadweep.
In Delhi, Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan sought Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s help to rescue fishermen stranded in the sea. He urged Sitharaman to help deploy an adequate number of ships, naval personnel and IAF to rescue the fishermen.
Vice Admiral A R Karve, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Southern Naval Command said that the Indian Navy is putting in “maximum effort” to rescue fishermen from the sea which is very rough under the influence of Cyclone Ockhi. According to top navy officials, they have deployed two ships to the Lakshadweep Islands for carrying out rescue and rehabilitation operations in the island.
Due to the delay in the rescue of the missing fishermen in Kerala, anxious relatives, including women, today blocked traffic and raised slogans in Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram.
According to Southern Railway officials, some train services in Kanyakumari and Nagercoil were cancelled while others ran late. As per the latest MeT reports, the cyclonic storm is very likely to intensify further during the next 24 hours. “It is very likely to continue to move west-
northwestwards across Lakshadweep islands during the next 24 hours and then move north-northeastwards during the subsequent 48 hours,” it added.
Earlier in the day, Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Director General NDRF and reviewed the situation in the areas affected by cyclone Ockhi. President Ram Nath Kovind to expressed his concern regarding the situation. He took to Twitter and wrote,”Thoughts with families, especially children, in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Lakshadweep, other regions affected by rains and cyclonic conditions. Confident local authorities, emergency services and civil society will rise to the occasion. And that citizens will help one another.”
WITH PTI INPUTS