Heavy rain pounded the southern districts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, claiming eight lives, as a depression south of Kanyakumari intensified into cyclonic storm ‘Ockhi’ on Thursday. IMD regional director S Sudevan said the formation is moving west-northwestwards towards Lakshadweep Islands and is likely to further intensify into a severe cyclonic storm in the next 24 hours. There is no need to panic, he added.
“Sea conditions are very likely to be high along and off south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu coasts and around Lakshadweep islands, thunderstorms accompanied with squall and lightning very likely at isolated places over Tamil Nadu and Kerala,” said a report released on Thursday evening. Fishermen in southern parts of the two states have been advised not to venture into sea for 24 hours.
Multiple forecasts said that Ockhi is likely to hit Lakshadweep Islands on December 2. Heavy flooding is expected and various state and central teams are being deployed there for relief and rescue operations.
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Four people were killed in rain-related incidents in Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram districts Thursday even as seven districts of southern and central Kerala were put on alert. More than 100 fishermen who ventured into sea in 28 boats along the Thiruvananthapuram coast Wednesday had not returned.
Kerala State Disaster Management Authority member secretary Dr Sekhar Kuriakose said that Ockhi would not hit the Kerala coast. “The cyclone is moving towards Lakshwadeep. The northern islands of Lakshwadeep are likely to face its impact. The spin-off effects would be felt in Kerala in the form of heavy downpour and strong winds,’’ he said.
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CM Pinarayi Vijayan said that people in coastal areas of Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram would be shifted to relief camps. The Southern Naval Command has deployed naval ships and aircraft while the Air Force has engaged choppers for rescue and relief operations.
The Tamil Nadu government deployed State and National Disaster Response Force teams in Kanyakumari district, where at least four people died and hundreds of trees were uprooted. The Congress cancelled a rally in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday. It was slated to be addressed by party vice-president Rahul Gandhi.