In pics: Cyclone Ockhi leaves a trail of death and destruction in south India
According to latest reports, the cyclone has claimed the lives of 40 people with 475 fishermen rescued so far. Around 115 are still reported missing.Updated: Dec 03, 2017 19:00 IST
After battering Lakshadweep islands on Saturday, and leaving a trail of death and destruction along the southern coast of Kerala and Tamil Nadu earlier, 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.
According to latest reports, the cyclone has claimed the lives of 40 people (26 in Kerala and 14 in Tamil Nadu) with 475 fishermen rescued so far. Around 115 are still reported missing.
Protests were mounting along the Kerala coast, with fishermen and their families blaming the state government for the “tardy” manner in which the rescue operations were being conducted.
Residents have launched protests in coastal areas, including Alappuzha and Chellanam, over the delay in rescuing fishermen stranded in the sea.
No information has been received about the 33 fishermen from Punthura who had ventured into the sea five days ago.
Angry fishermen defied warnings of the state government and the Met office and ventured into the sea on Sunday in search of missing colleagues.
At least 40 boats set out into the sea 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.
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,” Kerala tourism minister Kadakampally Surendran told HT
Stephan, a fisherman hailing from nearby Poonthura, said he was terrified on seeing a rescue boat move away without seeing them and hearing their cries.
“It was the first time we were experiencing such huge waves and a rough sea. Luckily, the rescue boat came back and saved us,” Stephan, who is recuperating at the Government Medical College Hospital here, said.
Though the Union tourism minister earlier backed the Kerala government’s contention that they had not received any prior warning about the cyclone, he later clarified that the central agencies had given necessary alerts on November 28 and 29 itself.
(With agency inputs)