THIRUVANANTHAPURAM / NAGERCOIL: All along the coast off Kanniyakumari and Thiruvananthapuram, rescued fishermen trudged ashore wearing a shocked look Saturday. Daredevil sorties by Indian Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard have managed to recover more than 200 fishermen blown off course but at least 100 from Kerala and a like number from Tamil Nadu are still missing.
The words on the lips of fishermen brought home were the same: Ockhi had been nothing like the many storms they had weathered all their seafaring lives. Most of them had bruises all over after two nights of clinging to stay aboard. First thing on shore, they were seen shivering and begging for hot water and food. They spoke of nights spent clinging to their boats, staring into a wall of darkess, and hearing the cries of fellow men thrown overboard.
Titus, a fisherman from Neendakara in Kollam district, said he had never seen “such a violent sea even in movies”.
Thirteen fishermen from Kerala and at least 12 from Tamil Nadu have so far been confirmed dead. Many more were reported as lost by fellow fishermen but families clung to hope that they drifted to safety in the Lakshadweep where Ockhi was next headed.
With Ockhi departing Kerala’s shores, 37 fishermen were rescued by the Navy and Coast Guard on Saturday, but confusion prevailed over the exact number of those still missing. At least 100 are yet to be accounted for in that state. Ever since search and rescue operations began late on Thursday, approximately 190 fishermen of the state were rescued.
In Tamil Nadu, rescue teams are on the lookout for 85 fishermen from Kanniyakumari and 12 from Thoothukudi.
While the rescue efforts stuck close to coast until Saturday, the Kerala government said it would widen the search out to high seas and call in bigger vessels from Kolkata and Mumbai to join the effort. ‘’We are changing our strategy. The cyclone might have carried many boats out to high seas,’’ said Kerala’s Fisheries Minister J Mercykutty Amma.
Rescuers said it has been an “incredible and daunting task” to carry out search ops during this storm. In one miraculous rescue off Thirivananthapuram, the crew of a Sea King copter spotted a lone survivor desperately clinging to his boat. Though the crew lowered the rescue strop, the survivor was too weak and traumatised to latch on to it. Amid the darkness, a diver went down with an omni glow and helped the survivor wear the rescue strop. Subsequently both of them were winched up.
Declare Ockhi a national calamity, says Kerala CM
The Kerala govt on Saturday urged the Centre to declare the cyclone as a national calamity. CM Pinarayi Vijayan instructed Chief Secretary KM Abraham to prepare a memorandum to be presented to the Union government at the earliest
Over 900 fishermen make it to Maharashtra coast
As many as 68 fishing boats - 66 from Kerala and two from Tamil Nadu - with 952 fishermen who were caught in the rough seas have reached Maharashtra’s Sindhudurg coast and are safe, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Saturday evening
Don’t jump the gun on Dec 4 storm: Met office
Chennai: Dispelling rumours about another low pressure system which would hit Chennai on Dec 4, the Area Cyclone Warning Centre said it was too early to predict. “Once it turns into a depression, we can predict where it will make landfall”