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Cyclone Ockhi: 1400 safe, efforts won't stop, says Nirmala Sitharaman

07 December 2017

The state received the warning regarding the cyclone on November 30 at 12 noon, the minister said.

As many as 531 fishermen, stranded in the choppy waters off the Kerala and the Lakshadweep coasts due to Cyclone Ockhi, have been rescued, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said today.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman with Union Tourism Minister Alphons Kannanthanam and Kerala Co-operation and Tourism Minister Kadakampally Surendran before leaving for Kanyakumari, at Shangumugham Sunday. "The rescue efforts will continue", Mr Kannanathanam said.

The Kerala government today made a decision to urge the Centre to declare Cyclone Ockhi, which left a trail of destruction in the state, as a national calamity. "But, there is no such scheme for the Centre to do the same", he said. The state could have warned fishermen on the deep depression, Mr Kannanthanam said.

The Union minister later visited nearby Punthura, a coastal hamlet where fishermen are alleging delay in the rescue of their kin who had ventured into sea days ago.

On Sunday, 17 fishermen were rescued after spending five days in the sea off the Kerala coast, which was battered by strong winds and heavy rainfall under the influence of the cyclone. "Already 11 people from your side have been included in the operations of Coast Guard and Air Force, " Sitharaman said.

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Rescued fishermen being brought to hospitals at Thiruvananthapuram on Friday.

Earlier on Monday, IMD had said that Ockhi will weaken gradually into a deep depression by the time it reaches the Gujarat and Maharashtra coasts around December 5 midnight.

"Precautionary holiday declared on December 5 for schools and colleges in Mumbai Metropolitan Region, Sindhudurga, Thane, Raigad and Palghar districts for the safety of students due to serious weather predictions on Cyclone Ockhi", Maharashtra Education Minister Vinod Tawde said on Twitter. Of these, 23 are from Tamil Nadu, three from Kerala and two from Karnataka, he said. The defence minister later met the chief minister and senior officials and assured all help from the Centre.

While the coast guard saved 71 fishermen from Tamil Nadu and 114 from Kerala, merchant vessels and trawlers saved 36 off the coast of Kerala and Lakshwadeep islands. So far, 1,047 people have been evacuated to the relief camps, official sources said.

Two houses near the seashore at Ullal were completely destroyed by the waves while another one was partially damaged.

Cyclone Ockhi: 1400 safe, efforts won't stop, says Nirmala Sitharaman