Eight killed as Cyclone Ockhi batters Tamil Nadu and Kerala coasts

Sergio Conner
December 7, 2017

The Cyclone Ockhi, is expected to make landfall on the coast of Maharashtra within the next 48 hours.

Navy and air force helicopters flew repeated sorties to save the fishermen, who rappelled up ropes from their boats.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman with Union Tourism Minister Alphons Kannanthanam and Kerala Co-operation and Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran before leaving for Kanyakumari, at Shangumugham Sunday.

Sea conditions will be rough to very rough along these coasts, while strong surface winds reaching speeds of 35 km/hr and gusting to 45 km/hr are likely over parts of South Gujarat and North Madhya Maharashtra. The minister stated this while speaking to reporters after a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan at the Secretariat on Sunday.

Amid the fury of cyclone, a raging controversy erupted after many fishermen alleged that they were not given any warning by the state fisheries department. "The rescue efforts will continue", Mr Kannanathanam said. However, there is no such scheme for the Centre to do the same. The Union Minister later visited nearby Poonthura, a coastal hamlet where fishermen are protesting alleging delay in rescue.

He also said that 90 fishermen from the state were yet to be brought back to the shores.

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Many rescued persons are admitted in Thiruvananthapuram medical college and hospital that opened a special ward for cyclone victims. Coast Guard ships were also engaged in rescue efforts. "There would not be any dilution of operations", she said. As a precautionary measure, the Government of Maharashtra has declared a holiday for schools in Mumbai Metropolitan Region, Sindhudurga, Ratnagiri, Thane, Raigad and Palghar districts.

Earlier on Monday, IMD had said that Ockhi will weaken gradually into a deep depression by the time it reaches the Gujarat and Maharashtra coasts around December 5 midnight.

While four deaths were reported in Tamil Nadu, four people were killed in Kerala. The boats are now docked at Mirya Bunder, Ratnagiri.

While the coast guard saved 71 fishermen from Tamil Nadu and 114 from Kerala, merchant vessels and trawlers saved 36 off the coast of Kerala and Lakshwadeep islands.

Meanwhile, in Ullal, three houses were damaged while the compound wall of a private resort collapsed as surging waves lashed the coast in the last two days. So far, 1,047 people have been evacuated to the relief camps, official sources said.

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