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Cyclone Ockhi likely to weaken by Sunday, move northwestwards from Lakshadweep
Thiruvananthapuram, December 2, 2017
Cyclone Ockhi appeared to be weakening today after striking the Lakshadweep Islands yesterday and the intensity of rains and winds reduced by this afternoon, providing some relief for people of the archipelago.
The islands, especially Minicoy and Kalpeni, had been lashed yesterday evening by heavy rains and gale winds, which caused substantial damage to public and private property. But no loss of life was reported from the islands, thanks to the precautionary measures taken by the local administration, which had moved people from the low-lying areas on the coast to safer places like school buildings.
Meanwhile, the death toll in south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu, which were struck by heavy rains and strong winds in the past two days as Ockhi swept past the coast towards Lakshadweep rose to 16.
More than 530 fishermen from Kerala and 73 from Tamil Nadu who were stranded in the Arabian Sea for the past two days have been rescued so far by ships and aircraft of the Indian Navy, the Indian Coast Guard and the Indian Air Force as well as by merchant navy ships.
However, more than 100 fishermen from Kerala and 97 from Tamil Nadu are still reported missing and the search and rescue teams continued their efforts to locate them. In the meantime, several fishermen from some of the coastal villages in Kerala set out to sea to look for and rescue their relatives and friends, local people told journalists.
Several of the fishermen rescued were admitted to various hospitals in Thiruvananthapuram and other places for treatment, the sources said.
The Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force have deployed 20 ships, 8 planes and five helicopters for the search and rescue operations. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said continued efforts would be made to ensure all fishermen affected returned home safely.
Official sources said 105 fishermen in eight boats from Kerala which had drifted ashore at Androth in the Lakshadweep were fine and would be repatriated upon improvement in weather.
Similarly, some boats missing from Beypore near Kozhikode in Kerala had reached Devagad port in Maharashtra after getting caught in the cyclone. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis directred the district magistrate of Sindudurg and the State Maritime Board to extend all help to the fishermen.
A Red message issued by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) at 1930 hours today said the very severe cyclonic storm over Lakshadweep area and adjoining Southeast Arabian Sea had further moved northwestwards with a speed of 18 kmph during the previous six hours and lay centred at 1730 hours near latitude 10.5º N and longitude 70.3º E, about 275 km west-southwest of Amini Divi.
"The system is very likely to weaken gradually from tomorrow, the 03rd December, 2017 morning. It is very likely to continue to move northwestwards during the next 12 hours and then recurve northeastwards during the subsequent 48 hours," it said.
The bulletin warned that rainfall was very likely at most places over north Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places.
It said rainfall was very likely at many places over Kerala during the next 12 hours, with heavy rainfall at isolated places.
Rainfall at many places was also very likely over south Gujarat, with heavy rainfall at isolated places, it said.
The bulletin said gale winds with speed reaching 70-80 kmph, gusting to 90 kmph, were very likely over and around north Lakshadweep Islands during the next 12 hours and gradually decrease thereafter. They would become squally winds with speed reaching 55-65 kmph gusting to 75 kmph by tomorrow morning for the subsequent 12 hours.
Squally winds with speed reaching 55-65 kmph, gusting to 75 kmph, were very likely over and around south Lakshadweep Islands during the next 12 hours and gradually decrease thereafter.
Squally winds with speed reaching 45-55 kmph, gusting to 65 kmph, were very likely along and off north Maharashtra and South Gujarat coasts on December 4 night and December 5, it said.
Sea conditions would be high over and around north Lakshadweep Islands during the next 12 hours and gradually become very rough by tomorrow morning for the subsequently 12 hours. They are very likely to be rough to very rough over and around south Lakshadweep Islands during next 12 hours and moderate to rough during the subsequent 12 hours.
Sea conditions would be rough to very rough along and off north Maharashtra and South Gujarat coasts on December 4 night and December 5, it said.
Storm surge of about 0.5 metre above astronomical tides was very likely to inundate low lying areas of north Lakshadweep Islands during the next 12 hours, the bulletin said.
Fishermen around Lakshadweep Islands were advised not to venture into the sea during the next 24 hours. Similarly, fishermen were advised not to venture into deep sea along and off Karnataka, Goa and south Maharashtra coasts during the next 48 hours.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs. 10 lakh to the next-of-kin of those who died in the cyclone-related incidents in the state. Assistance would also be provided to those who had lost their boat and equipment.