Cyclone Ockhi: In ravaged hamlets, kin of missing fishermen battle despair
Around 96 fishermen are still missing from Thiruvananthapuram district’s fishing hamlets after going out to sea before Cyclone Ockhi ravaged the southern coasts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.india Updated: Dec 04, 2017 19:35 IST
Kochu Thresya can’t speak properly now. Her eyes are puffy and throat sore from crying for days. Whenever a vessel appears on the horizon, she rushes to see whether her 16-year-old grandson Vineesh is there.
Vineesh is among 96 fishermen still missing from Thiruvananthapuram district’s fishing hamlets Poonthura and Vizhinjam after going out to sea before Cyclone Ockhi ravaged the southern coasts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Vineesh, who quit school and took up fishing at an early age after his father Vincent Peter developed kidney ailments, had left with other fishermen on Wednesday.
“A senior oarsman who was with him escaped and reached the shore two days back. When their boat capsized, three of them were holding on to the remains for many hours but later a killer wave separated them,” said his father Vincent.
Kochu Thresya holds a picture of Vineesh as she waits on the shores. All attempts to take her back home have failed, and she sustains on food handed out by the local church. The priest comes out occasionally to console her and many others who have made the beaches their temporary home — in wait for their kin.
“My brother and two grandchildren are missing. They were supposed to return on Thursday,” sobs Telma who used to sell fish in the local market.
Angry relatives chased state fisheries minister Mercukutty Amma when she reached the hamlet. “We don’t want any of them here. They are coming here after many days just for photo ops,” said a woman who refused government assistance. Relatives of some of the deceased also refused to accept the relief.
On the other hand, there is Dilbert, a fisherman who survived the storm at sea and is undergoing treatment. “After our boat collapsed, all eight occupants were thrown into the sea. I swam like a blind man for seven hours. In the morning, I could see another boat floating around and held on to it for more than 18 hours till help arrived,” he said.
Many like him have tales of survival to tell.