KANYAKUMARI: Women members of the fisher folk community on Monday held a protest in Kanyakumari district demanding that authorities intensify rescue operations to trace fishermen caught in the deep sea in the wake of Cyclone Ockhi.
Hundreds of women held protest on the roads in Neerodi village demanding the authorities trace their loved ones who are still missing since Ockhi struck southern Tamil Nadu and Kerala on November 30.
According to the fishing community in Kanyakumari, around 1,000 fishermen went into the sea before Ockhi struck the southern districts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Meanwhile, some fishermen in Kanyakumari district have said that the Indian Coast Guard was carrying out search operations only within 40 nautical miles from the shore and not venturing into deep sea, 200 nautical miles from the shore, where many fishermen go for deep sea fishing.
Speaking to a television channel, a fisherman in Kanyakumari who came back to the shore said: "Only God saved my life. We were thrown into the sea by the cyclone (Ockhi)."
He said he saw several bodies floating by when he was in mid sea.
Another person said deep sea fishermen will remain in the sea for several days. "They normally come back before Christmas and only then it will be known how many escaped the fury of Ockhi and how many succumbed to it."
According to Defence officials, the Coast Guard carries out search operations within 100 to 150 nautical miles and they also go beyond that depending on the situation.
In a statement issued on Sunday, the Press Information Bureau (Defence Wing) said 32 Tamil Nadu fishing boats along with 346 fishermen have taken safe shelter at Karwar out of the 129 fishing boats and 1,247 fishermen also belonging to Kerala, Karnataka and Maharshtra.
It also said 25 Tamil Nadu fishing boats have also taken shelter at Meriya Bander, Ratnagiri and Devgarh.
In addition, 80 fishing boats from Kerala, 45 from Karnataka and 15 from Goa have reached Devgarh, Malvan, Meriya Bandar and Karwar ports safely.
According to the statement, three ships and one aircraft belonging to Coast Guard Eastern Region were continuing with search and rescue operation off the Kanyakumari coast.
A total of 11 Coast Guard ships, two aircraft and two helicopters are presently carrying out search and rescue operations off the coasts of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Lakshadweep and Minicoy.