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Heavy rains, strong winds lash Lakshadweep as cyclone Ockhi moves towards archipelago

A helicopter from the Southern Naval Command of the Indian Navy carrying out a rescue effort over the Arabian Sea off the Kerala coast in the wake of cyclone Ockhi, on December 1, 2017.
A helicopter from the Southern Naval Command of the Indian Navy carrying out a rescue effort over the Arabian Sea off the Kerala coast in the wake of cyclone Ockhi, on December 1, 2017.
Heavy rains, strong winds and high tides hit the Lakshadweep Islands where a red alert has been issued as cyclone Ockhi struck the archipelago today even as the death toll in south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu in the past three days rose to 12, official sources said.
 
About 102 fishermen who had gone out to sea from south Kerala were said to be missing, with their relatives telling the authorities that they had not heard from them in the past two days. The sources said this information was being cross-checked with various agencies so that a more accurate figure could be worked out.
 
In the meantime, several fishermen from some of the villages had set out to sea to look for and rescue their relatives and friends, local people told journalists.
 
More than 220 fishermen stranded at sea off Kerala were rescued by ships and aircraft of the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard yesterday. 
 
Of the 12 rain-related deaths, seven had occurred in Kerala and five in south Tamil Nadu.
 
Several of the fishermen rescued yesterday were admitted to various hospitals in Thiruvananthapuram for treatment, the sources said.
 
Lakshadweep Member of Parliament P P Mohammed Faizal told NetIndian that Minicoy and Kalpeni islands were lashed last night by heavy rains and strong winds, which caused substantial damage to public and private property.
 
He said many of the other islands, including Kavaratti and Agati were also hit by the cyclone, but the situation was improving today.
 
There was no loss of life reported, thanks  to the precautionary measures taken by the local administration, which had moved people from the low-lying areas on the coast to safer places like school buildings, he added.
 
In a Red message issued at 0830 hours today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the very severe cyclonic storm over the Lakshadweep area and adjoining southeast Arabian Sea had moved further west-northwestwards with a speed of 11 kmph during the previous six hours and lay centred at 0530 hours today near latitude 9.6º N and longitude 71.5º E, about 230 km west-northwest of Minicoy and 215 km south of Amini Divi. 
 
"The system is very likely to intensify further during next 24 hours. It is very likely to continue to move west-northwestwards across Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and then recurve northeastwards during the subsequent 48 hours," it said.
 
According to the bulletin, under the influence of the system, rainfall was very likely at most places over Lakshadweep area during the next 24 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and isolated extremely heavy falls (>20 cm). There could be isolated heavy to very heavy falls during the subsequent 24 hours, it said.
 
The bulletin said rainfall was also very likely at many places over Kerala, with heavy rainfall at isolated places.
 
Gale winds with speed reaching 120-130 kmph, gusting to 145 kmph, were very likely over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and gradually decrease thereafter.
 
Squally winds with speed reaching 45-55 kmph, gusting to 65 kmph, were very likely along and off Kerala during the next 24 hours and along and off the Karnataka coast during the next 24 hours.
 
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The bulletin said sea conditions would be phenomenal over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and very high during the subsequent 24 hours. 
 
Sea conditions would be high to very high along and off Kerala coast during the next 24 hours and along and off the Karnataka coast during the subsequent 24 hours.
 
Storm surge of about 1 meter above astronomical tides was very likely to inundate low lying areas of Lakshadweep Islands, it said.
 
Fishermen along and off Lakshadweep Islands and the  Kerala and Karnataka coasts were advised not to venture into the sea during the next 48 hours. 
 
Two Indian Naval Ships -- Sharda and Shardul -- have left for Lakshadweep and Minicoy with rescue equipment and relief material. Other naval assets from Mumbai and Karwar were kept on standby for deployment towards the islands to augment search and rescue efforts, Indian Navy sources said.
 
INS Sagardhwani and Jamuna would continue their search and rescue operations off Vizhinjam in Kerala, while INS Nireekshak will remain off Kollam in the state, they said.
 
The Navy's advanced light helicopters had sanitised an area up to 25 nautical miles off Vizhinjam and there was less likelihood of stranded vessels in the area, the sources said.
 
"Rescue efforts will continue to look for survivors in general area off the Kerala coast," the sources added.
 
NNN
 
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