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Cyclone Ockhi claims 8 lives, 80 fishermen missing, kin blame government for no prior warning

By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 01, Dec 2017, 12:47 pm IST | UPDATED: 01, Dec 2017, 13:06 pm IST

Cyclone Ockhi claims 8 lives, 80 fishermen missing, kin blame government for no prior warning Chennai: Cyclone Ockhi, that killed eight people in coastal Kerala and Tamil Nadu, is moving closer to Lakshadweep. As of this morning, Cyclone Ockhi is hovering 160 km east of Lakshadweep in the Arabian Sea.

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) today said that the deep depression which had formed in the Bay of Bengal near Kanyakumari district in Tamil Nadu, bordering Kerala, on Wednesday has now intensified into a cyclonic storm named Ockhi, moving west-northwestwards towards Lakshadweep Islands in the southeast Arabian Sea. Ockhi's pre-determined name has been contributed by Bangladesh.

The IMD predicts that the cyclone can turn severe for districts in Kerala and southern Tamil Nadu in the next 24 hours but it is not expected to make a landfall in Tamil Nadu. Chennai can expect moderate and intermittent spells of rain.

The Met office said the worst seems to be over in the mainland and that the cyclone has moved away from Kanyakumari and Thiruvananthapuram. But the forecasters have warned of heavy rain in south Kerala for the next 24 hours and south Tamil Nadu for the next 12 hours.

Schools in the coastal districts in the two states have been closed. Over 80 fishermen from Kerala remain missing and are suspected to be stranded at sea.

Heavy rains accompanied by strong winds battered South Kerala coast affecting normal life at several places and claiming four lives on Thursday under the influence of Cyclone Ockhi. The State government put the official machinery on a high alert and ordered evacuation of people living within 100 metres from the coast and also sought help from the Navy, Coast Guard and the Air Force to assist people in distress.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan held discussions through video conferencing with the Collectors of Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Alapuzha, Pathnamthitta, Idukki and Ernakulam districts and gave them necessary directions to take steps by coordinating various government agencies. He also asked the officials to take emergency rescue operations in the affected areas and asked them maintain extreme vigil.

An elderly couple died when they came into contact with a snapped live wire in front of their house at Kattakada near Thiruvananthapuram while an autorickshaw driver was killed in Kolam district when a tree fell on his vehicle, police said. A 65-year old woman who was seriously injured when a tree branch fell on her at Vizhinjam died at the medical college hospital in Thiruvananthapuram.

In Kanyakumari, Cyclone ‘Ockhi’ has claimed four lives as gusty winds, coupled with heavy downpour, uprooted 550 trees and 950 electric poles.

Gale uprooted trees and electric poles at Vadaserry, Nagercoil, Thuckalay, Marthandam, Colachel, Kanyakumari, Kaliyakkavilai, Aralvaimozhi, Eethamozhi and other areas.

Uprooted coconut trees crushed M. Rajendran (40) of Karthigaivadali and Kumaresan (55) of Keezha Natranvilai to death when they were collecting coconuts.

A. Alexander (55) of Kamaraj Nagar near Parakkundru was killed when his house collapsed as a banyan tree fell on it. In Mondaicadu, C. Saraswathi (60) was killed when a coconut tree fell on her.

Southern Railway have made the following changes in train services due to cyclonic wind and incessant torrential rain in Nagercoil – Kanniyakumari, Nagercoil - Thiruvananthapuram and Nagercoil – Tirunelveli sections.

According to a press release from Southern Railway,  Train No.56715 Punalur – Kanniyakumari passenger will be partially cancelled between Neyyatinkara – Kanniyakumarijourney commencing on 30.11.2017.

Train No.16724 Kollam – Chennai Egmore Ananthapuri express will be partially cancelled between Kollam – Thiruvananthapuram journey commencing on 30.11.2017.

Train No.16723 Chennai Egmore – Kollam Ananthapuri express will be partially cancelled between Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam journey commenced on 29.11.2017

Train No.22627/22628 Tiruchi –Thiruvananthapuram – Tiruchi Intercity express will be partially cancelled between Tirunelveli – Thiruvannthapuram – Tirunelveli journey commencing on 30.11.2017.

Cyclone Ockhi to hit Lakshadweep on Dec. 2

Meanwhile in New Delhi, Madhavan Rajeevan, Secretary in the Ministry of Earth Sciences, said the Lakshadweep archipelago in the southern part of the Arabian Sea will start experiencing heavy rainfall and strong winds from December 1.

“It will hit the islands on December 2,” Mr. Rajeevan said.

Squally wind speed reaching 55-65 kmph and gusting to 75 kmph was very likely along and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 12 hours and may increase thereafter with wind speed becoming 80-90 kmph gusting to 100 kmph from November 30 night.

Sea conditions would be “very rough to high” over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 12 hours and “high to very high” during subsequent 48 hours, the IMD added.
High Lights:

  •     Several trains to and from Kerala's capital of Thiruvananthapuram were either delayed, cancelled or re-scheduled due to heavy rains overnight and the forecast of further rains.
  •     Five fishing boats are reported to have sunk near Lakshadweep's Kalpeni island. No casualties have been reported.
  •     The National Disaster Response Force or NDRF and Navy teams are on stand-by for moving towards the Lakshadweep islands for search and rescue operations. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh took stock of Cyclone Ockhi and said he spoke to the chief of the NDRF.
  •     The Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard are involved in the efforts to rescue the fishermen stranded at sea. Though the Air Force has spotted a group stranded fishermen, their choppers are unable to take off from Thiruvananthapuram due to rough weather. Eight fishermen have been rescued by the Navy.
  •     This morning, there is a brief respite from the incessant rains in Thiruvananthapuram.
  •     The Met office said the worst is over and the cyclone has moved away from Kanyakumari and Thiruvananthapuram. But it is intensifying on way to Lakshadweep and the wind speed and rain could cause damage.
  •     Four people were killed and dozens of houses were damaged in rain-related incidents in Tamil Nadu's Kanyakumari, the police said. Over 1,000 people have been evacuated from the popular tourist town. Four others were killed in Kerala.
  •     Water has entered a popular, 17th century temple in Kanyakumari's Shuchindram and several villages in the region. Over 800 people were evacuated from low-lying areas of Kanyakumari. Several areas are without electricity.
  •     Chennai received up to 5 cm rain of rain between 8:30 last night and and 5:30 this morning, the Met department said. Intermittent rain has been predicted in Chennai for today.
  •     Cyclone Ockhi was named by Bangladesh after the Bengali word for "eye".
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