8 dead in Kerala, TN, several fishermen missing as cyclone Ockhi heads for Lakshadweep

Thiruvananthapuram, December 1, 2017

Cyclone Ockhi: 8 killed, several fishermen missing
Cyclone Ockhi wreaked substantial damage as it hurtled towards Lakshadweep Islands past the coasts of south Tamil Nadu and south Kerala and caused the deaths of eight people -- four each in the two states --- as the authorities mounted a massive search operation for scores of fishermen reported missing at sea.
A "Red" message issued at 0830 hours today by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the cyclonic storm over southeast Arabian Sea continued to move westnorthwestwards with a speed of 17 kmph during past six hours, intensified into a severe cyclonic storm and lay centred at 0530 hours IST of today over southeast Arabian Sea near latitude 8.8º N and longitude 74.0º E, about 110 km north-northeast of Minicoy and 290 km southeast of Amini Divi. 
"The system is very likely to intensify further during next 24 hours. It is very likely to continue to move west-northwestwards across Lakshadweep Islands during next 24 hours and then move north/ northeastwards during the subsequent 48 hours," the bulletin said.
According to it, under the influence of the system, rainfall was very likely at most places over Lakshadweep area during the next 24 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and isolated extremely heavy falls (>20 cm). Isolated heavy to very heavy falls were likely during the subsequent 24 hours.
The bulletin said rainfall was very likely over many places over Kerala during the next 24 hours, with heavy rainfall at isolated places.
Gale winds, with speed reaching 110-120 kmph gusting to 130 kmph, were very likely over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and gradually decrease thereafter.
Squally winds, with speed reaching 45-55 kmph gusting to 65 kmph, were very likely along and off Kerala during the next 24 hours and along and off Karnataka coast during the next 24 hours.
Sea conditions would be high to very high over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and high during the subsequent 24 hours, the bulletin said.
Sea conditions would be high to very high along and off Kerala coast during the next 24 hours and along and off Karnataka coast during the subsequent 24 hours.
The bulletin said the cyclone could cause damage to power and communication lines due to breaking of tree branches and uprooting of large avenue trees, major damage to thatched houses/huts, major damage to kutcha houses, some damage to pucca roads, flooding of escape routes and damage to banana and papaya trees and standing crops in Lakshadweep Islands.
Storm surge of about 1 meter above astronomical tides was very likely to inundate low lying areas of Lakshadweep Islands, it said.
Fishermen along and off Lakshadweep Islands were advised not to venture into the sea during next 48 hours. Similarly, fishermen were advised not to venture into the sea along and off Kerala and Karnataka coast during the next 48 hours.
Meanwhile, many parts of south Kerala continued to receive heavy rains for the second day today.
Power supply was disrupted in some areas after electricity poles were uprooted and some roads were blocked by trees which had been uprooted.
There was concern in some coastal villages of Kollam and adjacent areas because several fishermen who had set out for the sea had not returned so far.
Indian Navy officials said a Boeing P8I aircraft deployed at first light from INS Rajali this morning had sighted seven survivors hanging on to a capsized boat about 25 miles west of Thiruvananthapuram. The aircraft had dropped a life raft in the vicinity and reported the exact position to ships in the area, which were being diverted to render assistance.
The Navy had said yesterday that, based on a request received from the District Collector of Thiruvananthapuram for assistance in the search and rescue of six fishing boats with fisherman and one marine engineering vessel reported to be missing at sea near Vizhinjam, the Southern naval Command had deployed Indian Naval Ships Shardul, Nireekshak, Kabra and Kalpeni and two aircraft based at Kochi.
The ships and aircraft would carry out search and rescue (SAR) operations in the area and would continue to remain at sea for any assistance required by the civil administration.
The Southern Naval Command is also gearing up for any Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) that may be required due to the effects of the storm, an official press release said.
According to official sources, apart from the Boeing P8I aircraft, an Indian Coast Guard Dornier and Chetak, advanced light helicopters and seven Indian Navy and Coast Guard ships were also in the area and scanning the Kerala coast.
The sources said a fisherman was rescued from sea off Vizhinjam in Kerala by an Indian  Coast Guard ship.
Schools in the coastal districts of south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu were closed. Rail traffic to and from Thiruvananthapuram was affected due to the heavy rains.
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has despatched its teams to south Kerala as well as Kanyakumari and Nagercoil in Tamil Nadu, the sources added.
NNN

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