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Cyclone Ockhi: Kerala fishermen defy warning, sail out to find those missing at sea

Fishermen claim they weren’t warned about the cyclone or its intensity and were caught unawares in the high seas.

india Updated: Dec 04, 2017 08:03 IST
Ramesh Babu
Ramesh Babu
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
Cyclone Ockhi,Kerala,Missing fishermen
Huge crowd of anxious fishermen families and locals waiting for those who yet to return home at Vizhinjam harbour in Thiruvananthapuram.(PTI)

Angry fishermen defied warnings of the state government and the Met office and ventured into the sea on Sunday in search of missing colleagues even as two more bodies were recovered taking the toll in cyclone Ockhi to 16 in the state.

At least 40 boats set out into the sea early Sunday to search for the missing men even as hopes for their survival began to fade. Within 30 minutes one of the boats returned with a bloated body that is yet to be identified. Another body was washed ashore. Meanwhile, Indian Air Force helicopters are continuing search missions.

In Vizhinjam and Poonthura, two fishing hamlets in Thiruvananthapuram district, at least 80 fishermen are still missing. Another 40 are reported to be missing from other areas. The total of 120 fishermen have been missing since November 29.

“We tried our best to pacify them. But time is running out and they are simmering with anger. The state government handled the disaster with kid gloves. It is sad human lives are so cheap here,” said Poonuthura parish priest Father Justin Rudin.

He said the state machinery was quite ineffective in handling the disaster and he gave full credit to member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor for co-ordinating rescue and relief measures with Delhi.

The state government denies that it’s response to the cyclone was lethargic.

“We have done everything possible. It is natural emotions can go up on such occasions. The joint rescue operation team has saved more than 400 fishermen,” state tourism minister Kadakampally Surendran told HT

One of the survivors alleged that the fishermen had no warning of the cyclone or its intensity.

“It is second tsunami for us. We never saw such killer waves. Many lives should have been saved if we got prior warning about the deep depression and impending cyclone,” said Cletus Yesudas who was rescued after spending two days in the sea.

He also claimed rescuers were only concentrating on survivors and refused to carry bodies which were floating around in deep seas.

His boat was toppled by killer waves and he has no idea about the rest of the crew on his boat. There is utter confusion in many hamlets and authorities are clueless about the number of missing and rescued. Women and children remained on shore throughput the night waiting for their dear ones to return.

Meanwhile Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has tweeted saying 68 fishing boats mainly from Kerala and Tamil Nadu have reached the state’s coast.

After battering Lakshadweep islands cyclone Ockhi is slowly moving towards the western coast of the country, Met officials said. It is likely to weaken once it arrives at the Gujarat coasts by Monday.

First Published: Dec 03, 2017 11:13 IST