Cyclone Ockhi intensified into a severe cyclonic storm and moved to the Arabian Sea today even as the Navy rescued eight fishermen caught in choppy waters and intensified search for 30 others missing.
Rains, which left eight persons dead including four each in Tamil Nadu and Kerala yesterday, continued to lash parts of the two states.
A Defence spokesperson today said 13 boats with 38 crew from Kerala and one boat from Tamil Nadu with four persons onbard were missing. A Navy aircraft rescued eight of them.
“The fishermen were found floating in water by Advance Light Helicopter,” the spokesperson said.
The weather department said Kanyakumari, Tuticorin and Tirunelveli districts in Tamil Nadu received rains for the third day today though the cyclone threat mitigated as the system, lying 70 kms south of Kanyakumari yesterday, moved to the Arabian sea.
“Ockhi cyclone intensified into a severe cyclone and lies at about 110 km northeast of Minicoy (island) and it is likely to cross Lakshadweep arch during the next 24 hours,” the India Meteorological Department said in a bulletin this morning.
Gale winds speed reaching 110-120 kmph gusting to 130 kmph were very likely over and around Lakshadweep during next 24 hours. Squally wind conditions would prevail along and off Kerala and Karnataka coast.
It forecast rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy at a few places and isolated extremely heavy falls (more than 20 cm) over Lakshadweep area during next 24 hours. Rainfall at many places with heavy rainfall at isolated places were very likely over Kerala during next 24 hours.
With rains continuing to hit normal life in south Tamil Nadu, a holiday was declared for schools and colleges in five districts, including Kanyakumari, which bore the brunt yesterday.
The Thamirabharani river in Tirunelveli district was in spate in view of copious rains.
Rains also hit several other parts of the state, including Chennai and its surroundings since last night, following which holiday was declared for schools in Chennai, Kancheepuram and parts of Tiruvallu district as also some other districts.
Search operations for several missing fishermen, who had put out to sea from the coast in Kerlal and Tamil Nadu, resumed this morning with Navy deploying a Dornier and an Advanced light helicopter (ALH) with divers.
Five Kanyakumari district fishermen did not return to the shores after they put out to sea two days ago, police said.
Navy, which had yesterday sent a Seaking helicopter for the search operations, this morning deployed a Dornier and an ALH with divers, Southern Naval Command spokesperson Commander Sreedhar Warrier told PTI.
Five ships had been sent to the southern Kerala coast yesterday by the Navy after reports emerged that several fishermen who had put out to sea in choppy waters were yet to return.
Besides, two ships with relief materials are on stand by at Lakshadweep for humanitarian assistance.
A Kochi report said five Navy ships and four vessels from the Coast Guard have been deployed for search and rescue operations to locate missing fishermen.
All the ships have been directed to be positioned along and off Kerala Coast and additional Dornier sorties will be undertaken today.