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Lakshadweep

10 dead in Kerala, TN, several fishermen missing as cyclone Ockhi heads for Lakshadweep

Heavy rains lashed many parts of south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu and at least 10 people have died since yesterday as cyclone Ockhi intensified into a very severe cyclonic storm and hurtled past the coasts of the two states towards Lakshadweep Islands on Friday.
 
Cyclone Ockhi: 8 killed, several fishermen missing
Heavy rains lashed many parts of south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu and at least 10 people have died since yesterday as cyclone Ockhi intensified into a very severe cyclonic storm and hurtled past the coasts of the two states towards Lakshadweep Islands today.
 
Four people were killed in south Kerala and five in south Tamil Nadu in rain-related incidents yesterday even as the authorities mounted a massive search and rescue operation for scores of fishermen reported missing at sea.
 
One fisherman, who was among those rescued today, died in hospital here today, taking the toll in Kerala to five, official sources said.
 
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) issued a warning of a very severe cyclone for Lakshadweep Islands this evening and said the system was likely to intensify further in the next 24 hours.
 
In a Red message issued at 1730 hours today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the system, now over the Lakshadweep  area and adjoining southeast Arabian Sea, continued to move west-northwestwards with a speed of 15 kmph during the past six hours and intensified further into a "Very Severe Cyclonic Storm".
 
It lay centred at 1430 hours IST today near latitude 9.1º N and longitude 73.0º E, about 90 km north of Minicoy and 220 km south-southeast 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 next 24 hours and then move north/ northeastwards during the subsequent 48 hours," the bulletin said.
 
The IMD warned that, under the influence of the system, heavy to very heavy rainfall was very likely at most places over Lakshadweep area during the next 24 hours, with isolated extremely heavy falls. There could be isolated heavy to very heavy falls during the subsequent 24 hours, it said.
 
The bulletin also said that rainfall was very likely at many places over Kerala during the next 24 hours, with heavy rainfall at isolated places.
 
According to it, 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 gradual 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 Karnataka coast during the next 24 hours, it said.
 
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 the Kerala coast during the next 24 hours and along and off the Karnataka coast during subsequent 24 hours.
 
The cyclone could cause damage to power and communication lines due to breaking of tree branches and uprooting of large avenue trees; major damage to thatched houses, huts and kutcha houses; some damage to pucca roads; flooding of escape routes; and damage to banana and papaya trees and standing crops.
 
Storm surge of about one metre above astronomical tides was very likely to inundate low lying areas of Lakshadweep Islands, the bulletin said.
 
Fishermen along and off Lakshadweep Islands were advised not to venture into the sea during the next 48 hours. Similarly, fishermen were advised not to venture into the sea along and off the Kerala and Karnataka coasts during the next 48 hours.
 
Ships and aircraft of the Indian Navy, the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) and the Indian Air Force (IAF) were involved in the rescue efforts at sea while teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were deployed in the affected areas in the two states and units of the Indian Army were on standby to come to the aid of the civil adminstration, if necessary.
 
Official sources here said more than 220 people had been rescued from the sea by the Navy, ICG and IAF. Many of them were admitted to hospitals here for treatment, they said. 
 
Some of the fishermen were rescued by a Japanese cargo ship in the area. As many as 37 people were rescued by Advanced Light Helicopters (ALHs) of the Indian Navy which flew between Thiruvananthapuram and the sea.
 
The ICG said it had deployed nine ships and two Dornier aircraft in the area and rescued as many as 52 fishermen so far.
 
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The International Safety Net (ISN) had been activated to advise Merchant Traffic to render assistance to stranded fishermen, it said.
 
Among others, Indian Naval Ships Sagardhwani, Jamuna and Nireekshak were in the affected areas in the Arabian Sea. INS Sharda and Shardul are also sailing out soon to augment the search effort. Both ships were in final stages of embarking HADR items for assistance at Lakshadweep and Minicoy Islands, Indian Navy sources said.
 
In Poonthura, a coastal village near here, angry groups of fishermen and their families staged protests, alleging that the government had not acted in time and not done enough as far as the rescue efforts were concerned. 
 
Former Chief Minister and Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala, both senior leaders of the Congress, visited the area today to listen to the woes of the villagers.
 
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told newspersons that the state government had received an alert about the cyclone only on Thursday afternoon. He said the rescue efforts were also hampered by the bad weather conditions.
 
Mr. Vijayan said all possible efforts were being made to locate and rescue the missing fishermen. He said the state government had urged the Ministry of Defence to deploy more aircraft for the search and rescue operations.
 
In Lakshadweep, the authorities had issued orders for the evacuation of people from low-lying areas in Kalpeni, Minicoy, Kavratti, Agatti, Androth, Kadamath and Amini islands.
 
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Rajnath Singh chairs fifth meeting of Island Development Agency

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Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh chaired the fifth meeting of the Island Development Agency (IDA) here on Tuesday at which the  progress made under the programme for "Holistic Development of Islands" was reviewed.
 
An official press release said bids for private sector participation in three tourism-based projects have already been invited by the Andaman & Nicobar Administration. 
 
They include eco-tourism projects in Smith Island and Long island and tent city project in Aves Island. Bids will be invited shortly for one more project in Neil Island of Andaman & Nicobar.
 
Three projects in Lakshadweep have been identified for issue of bids. They include tourism projects in the islands of Kadmat, Minicoy and Suheli Cheriyakara. Environmental Clearance (EC), Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Clearance and all other clearances required for these projects are being obtained upfront, on priority, to attract more number of reputed bidders, the release said.
 
The Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce has issued a notification extending tax incentives for investments made in manufacturing and service sector in islands of Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep. 
 
"Expeditious implementation of the above mentioned projects will provide high economic return to the private sector, satisfactory jobs and additional income to the islanders and enhanced revenue to the Government - a win-win situation for all. Above all, stability of the island eco-system will be maintained with effective execution of well-planned environmental safeguards," the release said.
 
A detailed presentation was made by CEO, NITI Aayog highlighting the current status of planned projects being implemented for islanders’ benefits. The status of implementation of decisions taken in the last meeting was also highlighted in the presentation.
 
Rajnath Singh expressed satisfaction at the progress made since its last meeting held on June 30, 2018 when directions were given to focus on creation of recreational facilities along-with tourism infrastructure; implementation of renewable energy projects; incentives for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs); development of a film city in an island, and so on.
 
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Key infrastructure projects such as operationalization of Diglipur airport for civilian aircraft and construction of a new airport in Minicoy Island have been accorded high priority by the Government. Four islands (Swaraj Dweep, Shaheed Dweep, Hutbay and Long) in Andaman & Nicobar and three islands (Kavaratti, Agatti and Minicoy) in Lakshadweep have been identified for seaplane operation. CRZ clearance has been accorded for ‘Middle Strait Bridge’ on Andaman Trunk Road. All these measures will improve inter-island connectivity significantly.
 
"Digital connectivity will improve substantially in the islands with augmentation of satellite bandwidth and laying of optical fibre cable. Better communication services will facilitate setting up of Information Technology based and other Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) in the islands," the release said.
 
In order to sustainably utilize the potential of tuna fish, ten deep-sea modern fishing vessels are being procured by Lakshadweep administration from Cochin Shipyard Limited. Export of sea food and coconut products is being encouraged to generate more employment opportunities in the islands.
 
Rajnath Singh called upon all concerned to expedite implementation of ongoing projects which have been planned to create additional jobs for the islanders and improve inter-island connectivity. He directed that adequate care should also be taken for maintaining a clean, green and healthy environment in the islands. Home Minister appreciated collective efforts being made by all the Ministries for holistic and sustainable development of islands.
 
The meeting was attended by Lt. Governor of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Admiral D. K. Joshi (retd); Administrator of Lakshadweep Farooq Khan; Cabinet Secretary P. K. Sinha; CEO, NITI Aayog Amitabh Kant, Secretaries and senior officials from ministries of Home, Commerce, Tribal Affairs, Environment and Forest, Petroleum and Natural Gas, Telecommunications, Shipping, Water Resources, Earth Sciences, New and Renewable Energy.
 
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3rd Decadal International Year of Reefs inaugurated in Lakshadweep

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The International Conference on Status and Protection of Coral Reefs (STAPCOR – 2018) with the theme “Reef for Life” was inaugurated by Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Harsh Vardhan on Monday at Bangaram coral island in Lakshadweep.
 
About 150 delegates from India and abroad are participating in the event at Bangaram Island from October 22-24, 2018. The delegates and keynote speakers for technical deliberations have come from United State of America, United Kingdom, Kuwait, Italy, France, Maldives and Sri Lanka.
 
In his inaugural address, the Minister highlighted the importance of coral reefs and the need for its protection, emphasising on converting science into adequate policies for conservation. Evolving effective management strategies leading to restoration of coral reef, along with the practice of green good deed for behavioural change and social responsibility in day to day life was also emphasized.
 
The Minister congratulated the Department of Environment & Forest for organizing the event and also appreciated the efforts of the Lakshadweep Administration in making Lakshadweep Islands free from plastics.
 
Lakshadweep Administrator Farooq Khan, in his presidential address, said Lakshadweep will soon establish an International Atoll Research Centre, with world class infrastructures for scientific research on corals.
 
Chief Wildlife Warden and Secretary, Environment &Forests, Lakshadweep Administration Damodhar A T, welcomed the gathering and narrated the effect of climate change and global warming along with El Nino on the corals lead to heavy bleaching internationally during the year 1998. This led to the foundation of STAPCOR with a decision to hold an international conference in every 10 years to review the status and progress of coral reefs all over the world.
 
The Department of Environment and Forest, Union Territory of Lakshadweep Administration organised this mega conference with the technical support of Zoological Survey of India and in association with Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, IUCN, ENVIS in consonance with the declaration of the year 2018 as the 3rd decadal International Year of Reefs.
 
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Rs 650 crore investment expected in Andaman & Nicobar, Lakshadweep Islands

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The Restricted Area Permit regime will be relaxed for tourism promotion and investment worth Rs 650 crore is expected in various projects in Andaman & Nicobar (A&N) and Lakshadweep islands.  
 
This was revealed at the third meeting of the Island Development Agency (IDA) chaired by  Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh here yesterday.
 
The meeting reviewed the progress made towards preparation of Development Plans for identified Islands (four in A&N Islands-- Smith, Ross, Long, Avis and five in Lakshadweep -- Minicoy, Bangaram, Thinnakara, Cheriyam, Suheli), an official press release said.
 
For these Islands, Final Site Suitability Reports have been prepared, Carrying Capacity determined and Environmental zoning carried out to ensure sustainable development.
 
NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant made a detailed presentation of action taken in pursuance of decisions taken in earlier meetings. The Union Home Minister expressed satisfaction at the progress made since the meeting held on November 8, 2017, when directions were given to identify additional Islands for sustainable development and also accord priority to key infrastructure projects.
 
NITI Aayog, in consultation with the UT Administrations has identified additional islands or locations for planning of suitable projects aimed at creation of more jobs for the Islanders. Community-based tourism will also be promoted.
 
Of these locations, 12 are in Andaman and Nicobar -- North Passage, Cinque, Inglis, Viper, Neil (Bharatpur Beach), Ramnagar Beach, Karmatang Beach, Dhaninallah Beach, Kalipur Beach, Rutland, North Bay and Great Nicobar - B Quarry. Five are in Lakshadweep-- Kalpeni, Kadmat, Agatti, Chetlat and Bitra.
 
Key infrastructure projects such as creation of jetties/berthing facilities, Roll-on/Roll-off ships; Bridges on Andaman Trunk Road;, upgrading of Diglipur Airport and  construction of Minicoy Airport were being given priority, the release said.
 
Modernization of existing jetty at Kavaratti, augmentation of satellite bandwidth from 1.118 Gbps to 2.118 Gbps in Andaman & Nicobar, augmentation of helicopter services for islanders and tourists, and so on, also figure in the same list.
 
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With better communication services, Information Technology based and other Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) would be promoted in the islands, it said.
 
Further, after carrying out systematic study, 18 projects, both in Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep, have been identified for implementation, out of which seven are ready for launch through PPP.
 
Three such projects in Andaman & Nicobar (one each in Long, Smith and Ayes Island) and three in Lakshadweep (one each in Suheli, Minicoy and Kadamat) are ready to be launched, the release said.
 
After implementation of these projects, an investment of about Rs. 650 crore is expected from the private sector. Preference would be given to the local people for employment. An investors' conference would be held in May this year, it said.
 
The Minister called upon all concerned to expedite implementation of ongoing key infrastructure projects in the islands, particularly for improving air, road and web connectivity, providing good quality drinking water to the residents and power supply.
 
He directed that designs of these projects be made in such a way to provide maximum benefits to the local population. He observed that development of Islands was first discussed in 1999 and now it was taking concrete shape. He appreciated collective efforts being made by all the Ministries for holistic and sustainable development of Islands.
 
The meeting was attended by Lt. Governor of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Administrator of Lakshadweep, Cabinet Secretary PK Sinha, NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant and Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba.
 
Secretary Defence, Secretary Tourism, Secretary, Tribal Affairs and other Senior Officers of Central Ministries of Tourism, Power, Defence, Health, Telecommunications and Civil Aviation also attended.
 
Vice-Chief of Naval Staff and Air Commodore from Indian Air Force were also present.
 
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Modi visits cyclone-hit areas in Lakshadweep, TN, Kerala; announces relief package

 
Modi reviews relief efforts in cyclone Ockhi-hit areas
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today reviewed the situation in the areas of Lakshadweep, Tamil Nadu and Kerala which were struck by the recent cyclone Ockhi and announced a package of relief measures, including immediate financial assistance worth Rs. 325 crore from the Centre to meet the requirements of the two States and Union Territory.
 
The financial assistance announced by the Prime Minister today is over and above the assistance of Rs. 280 crore to Tamil Nadu, and Rs. 76 crore to Kerala, disbursed earlier this month, after Ockhi hit the region in late November-early December.
 
An ex-gratia assistance of Rs. 2 lakh to the next-of-kin of the deceased, and Rs. 50,000 to each of those seriously injured due to the cyclone have been sanctioned under the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF), it said.
 
Mr. Modi said the Government of India will support the reconstruction of approximately 1400 houses fully damaged due to Cyclone Ockhi, on priority, under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY). Under this programme, each beneficiary will get upto Rs. 1.5 lakh as support for building a new house.
 
Insurance companies have also been advised to pay the insurance claims of people affected by Ockhi cyclone expeditiously, he said.
 
During a day-long visit to the cyclone-affected areas, Mr. Modi met and interacted with people, including fishermen and farmers, affected by it.
 
In the course of the day, the Prime Minister interacted with people in Kavaratti in Lakshadweep and Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu. He also visited Punthura village near Thiruvananthapuram, which is one of the villages that faced the impact of the cyclone. People explained to him the hardships faced by them on account of the cyclone. 
 
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He assured the people that all help will be provided  to them and that the Union Government stood shoulder to shoulder with them in their hour of crisis.
 
Mr. Modi held separate detailed review meetings on the current situation and relief measures, at Kavaratti, Kanyakumari and Thiruvananthapuram. The Governors, Chief Ministers of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Deputy Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha, and Administrator of Lakshadweep along with senior officials were present at the respective meetings.
 
Earlier, during the review meetings, the Prime Minister was briefed on the impact of Ockhi, the third major cyclone of this kind, to hit this area in the last 125 years. The cyclone hit on November 30, 2017, and  the search and rescue operations, began the same day. So far, a total of 197 ship days involving 20 surface platforms and about 186 flying hours have been utilised by the Indian Coast Guard for search and rescue operations. In addition, a total of 156 ship days and 399 flying hours, involving 10 ships and 7 types of aircraft have been utilised by the Indian Navy. A total of 183 fishermen and civil administration personnel were carried on board these ships to aid in the rescue operations. A total of 845 fishermen have been rescued or assisted till date.
 
The Prime Minister was informed that the surveillance was carried out even beyond 700 nautical miles from the shore, the release added.
 
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Modi to visit cyclone Ockhi-affected areas of Lakshadweep, Kerala, TN on Tuesday

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Prime Minister  Narendra Modi will visit Lakshadweep, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala tomorrow to review the situation in the aftermath of cyclone Ockhi, which struck the region in late November and the first week of December. 
 
Mr. Modi will visit Kavaratti in Lakshadweep, Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu and Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala and meet with officials, public representatives, cyclone victims, including fishermen and farmer delegations, an official press release said.
 
The release said the Prime Minister had constantly monitored the situation arising out of the cyclone and spoken to all relevant authorities and officials.
 
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitaraman undertook a visit to the cyclone affected areas of both Kanyakumari district in Tamil Nadu and Thiruvananthapuram on December 3-4. 
 
The National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) chaired by Cabinet Secretary Pradeep Kumar met on December 4 and reviewed the relief and rescue operations in the areas affected by the cyclone.
 
Government agencies both from the Centre and the affected States, including Coast Guard, Air Force, Navy, and National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were involved in relief and rescue operations. Relief camps were set up in the affected areas. The Union Government has released the second instalment of State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) to the Governments of Kerala and Tamil Nadu in the current financial year of 2017-18 to supplement their efforts in dealing with the natural calamity. 
 
During the financial year 2017-18, the central share of SDRF to State Government of Kerala and Tamil Nadu is Rs. 153 crore and Rs. 561 crore, respectively, the release said.
 
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Heavy rains, strong winds lash Lakshadweep as cyclone Ockhi moves towards archipelago

Heavy rains, strong winds and high tides hit the Lakshadweep Islands where a red alert has been issued as cyclone Ockhi struck the archipelago on Saturday even as the death toll in south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu in the past three days rose to 12, official sources said.
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.
 
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8 dead in Kerala, TN, several fishermen missing as cyclone Ockhi heads for Lakshadweep

 
Cyclone Ockhi: 8 killed, several fishermen missing
Cyclone Ockhi wreaked substantial damage as it hurtled towards Lakshadweep Islands past the coasts of south Tamil Nadu and south Kerala and caused the deaths of eight people -- four each in the two states --- as the authorities mounted a massive search operation for scores of fishermen reported missing at sea.
 
A "Red" message issued at 0830 hours today by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the cyclonic storm over southeast Arabian Sea continued to move westnorthwestwards with a speed of 17 kmph during past six hours, intensified into a severe cyclonic storm and lay centred at 0530 hours IST of today over southeast Arabian Sea near latitude 8.8º N and longitude 74.0º E, about 110 km north-northeast of Minicoy and 290 km southeast 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 next 24 hours and then move north/ northeastwards during the subsequent 48 hours," the bulletin said.
 
According to it, 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). Isolated heavy to very heavy falls were likely during the subsequent 24 hours.
 
The bulletin said rainfall was very likely over many places over Kerala during the next 24 hours, with heavy rainfall at isolated places.
 
Gale winds, with speed reaching 110-120 kmph gusting to 130 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 Karnataka coast during the next 24 hours.
 
Sea conditions would be high to very high over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and high during the subsequent 24 hours, the bulletin said.
 
Sea conditions would be high to very high along and off Kerala coast during the next 24 hours and along and off Karnataka coast during the subsequent 24 hours.
 
The bulletin said the cyclone could cause damage to power and communication lines due to breaking of tree branches and uprooting of large avenue trees, major damage to thatched houses/huts, major damage to kutcha houses, some damage to pucca roads, flooding of escape routes and damage to banana and papaya trees and standing crops in Lakshadweep Islands.
 
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 were advised not to venture into the sea during next 48 hours. Similarly, fishermen were advised not to venture into the sea along and off Kerala and Karnataka coast during the next 48 hours.
 
Meanwhile, many parts of south Kerala continued to receive heavy rains for the second day today.
 
Power supply was disrupted in some areas after electricity poles were uprooted and some roads were blocked by trees which had been uprooted.
 
There was concern in some coastal villages of Kollam and adjacent areas because several fishermen who had set out for the sea had not returned so far.
 
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Indian Navy officials said a Boeing P8I aircraft deployed at first light from INS Rajali this morning had sighted seven survivors hanging on to a capsized boat about 25 miles west of Thiruvananthapuram. The aircraft had dropped a life raft in the vicinity and reported the exact position to ships in the area, which were being diverted to render assistance.
 
The Navy had said yesterday that, based on a request received from the District Collector of Thiruvananthapuram for assistance in the search and rescue of six fishing boats with fisherman and one marine engineering vessel reported to be missing at sea near Vizhinjam, the Southern naval Command had deployed Indian Naval Ships Shardul, Nireekshak, Kabra and Kalpeni and two aircraft based at Kochi.
 
The ships and aircraft would carry out search and rescue (SAR) operations in the area and would continue to remain at sea for any assistance required by the civil administration.
 
The Southern Naval Command is also gearing up for any Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) that may be required due to the effects of the storm, an official press release said.
 
According to official sources, apart from the Boeing P8I aircraft, an Indian Coast Guard Dornier and Chetak, advanced light helicopters and seven Indian Navy and Coast Guard ships were also in the area and scanning the Kerala coast.
 
The sources said a fisherman was rescued from sea off Vizhinjam in Kerala by an Indian  Coast Guard ship.
 
Schools in the coastal districts of south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu were closed. Rail traffic to and from Thiruvananthapuram was affected due to the heavy rains.
 
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has despatched its teams to south Kerala as well as Kanyakumari and Nagercoil in Tamil Nadu, the sources added.
 
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IMD issues cyclone warning for south Kerala, south Tamil Nadu and Puducherry

Image: IMD
Image: IMD
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) today issued a cyclone warning for south Kerala, adjoining districts of South Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep with the cyclonic storm Ockhi lying centred over southeast Arabian Sea this evening.
 
An "Orange" message issued at 2000 hours by IMD said that the latest observations and radar and satellite imageries indicated that Ockhi, over Arabian Sea off south Kerala coast, had moved west-northwestwards with a speed of 20 kmph during the past six hours and lay centred at 1730 hrs IST of today over southeast Arabian Sea near latitude 8.2º N and longitude 75.8º E, about 130 km west-southwest of Thiruvananthapuram and 290 km east-southeast of Minicoy. 
 
"The system is very likely to intensify further into a severe cyclonic storm during the next 24 hours. It is very likely to move westnorthwestwards across Lakshadweep Islands during the next 36 hours and then move northwestwards during the subsequent 24 hours," the bulletin said.
 
According to it, rainfall was very likely at most places over south Tamil Nadu during the next 12 hours and over south Kerala during the next 24 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places and isolated heavy falls over interior Tamil Nadu and Kerala during subsequent 24 hours.
 
The bulletin said rainfall was very likely at most places over Lakshadweep area during the next 48 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and isolated extremely heavy falls.
 
Gale winds, with speed reaching 65-75 kmph, gusting to 85 kmph, were very likely along and off South Kerala during next 36 hours and along and off south Tamil Nadu during the next 12 hours, it said.
 
Gale winds, with speed reaching 60-70 kmph, gusting to 80 kmph, were very likely over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 12 hours and increase thereafter with wind speeds becoming 100-110 kmph gusting to 120 kmph around tomorrow evening, it said.
 
The bulletin said sea conditions would be high along and off South Kerala coast during the next 36 hours and very rough to high along and off south Tamil Nadu coast during the next 12 hours.
 
Sea conditions would be high over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 12 hours and very high during the subsequent 48 hours.
 
The bulletin said damage to power and communication lines due to breaking of tree branches and uprooting of trees, major damage to "kutcha" houses, minor damage to "pucca" roads and damage to paddy crops, banana, papaya trees and orchards could occur in south Kerala  (Alappuzha, Kottayam, Idukki, Kollam, Pathanathitta and  Thiruvananthapuram districts), adjoining districts of south Tamil Nadu (Kanyakumari, Tutukudi and Tirunelveli districts) and Lakshadweep Islands.
 
Storm surge of about 1 meter above astronomical tides is very likely to inundate low-lying areas of Lakshadweep Islands from tonight, the bulletin said.
 
Storm surge of about 0.5 meter above astronomical tides is very likely to inundate low-lying areas of coastal districts of south Kerala (Alappuzha, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram districts), and adjoining districts of south Tamil Nadu (Kanyakumari, Tutukudi and Tirunelveli districts) during the next 12 hours.
 
Fishermen along and off Lakshadweep Islands were advised not to venture into the sea during the next 48 hours. Similarly, fishermen were advised not to venture into the sea along and off South Tamil Nadu coast during the next 24 hours and along and off South Kerala coasts during the next 48 hours.
 
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IMD issues cyclone warning for South Kerala, south TN and Lakshadweep

Image: IMD
Image: IMD
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) today issued a cyclone warning for south Kerala, adjoining districts of South Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep with the cyclonic storm Ockhi over the Comorin area lying centred off the south Kerala coast and neighbourhood this afternoon.
 
In an "Orange" message issued at 1700 hours, the IMD said the latest observations and satellite imageries indicated that Ockhi had moved west-northwestwards with a speed of 20 kmph during the past six hours and lay centred at 1430 hours IST over south Kerala coast and neighbourhood near latitude 7.9º N and longitude 76.4º E, about 120 km west-southwest of Kanyakumari, 180 km south-southwest of Thiruvananthapuram and 360 km east-southeast of Minicoy. 
 
"The system is very likely to move west-northwestwards towards Lakshadweep Islands and intensify further into a severe cyclonic storm during the next 24 hours," the bulletin said.
 
The bulletin said that, under the influence of the system, rainfall would occur at most plaes over south Tamil Nadu and south Kerala during the next 24 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places and isolated heavy falls over interior Tamil Nadu and Kerala during the subsequent 24 hours.
 
It also said that rainfall was very likely over Lakshadweep area during the next 48 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and isolated extremely heavy falls.
 
According to IMD, gale winds, with speed reaching 65-75 kmph, gusting to 85 kmph, are very likely along and off South Kerala during the next 48 hours and along and off south Tamil Nadu during the next 24 hours.
 
Squally winds with speed reaching 55-65 kmph, gusting to 75 kmph, were very likely along and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 12 hours and increase thereafter with wind speeds becoming 80-90 kmph, gusting to 100 kmph, from tonight.
 
The bulletin said sea conditions would be high along and off South Kerala coast during the next 48 hours and along and off south Tamil Nadu coast during the next 24 hours.
 
Sea conditions would be very rough to high over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 12 hours and high to very high during the subsequent 48 hours, it said.
 
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The bulletin said damage to power and communication lines due to breaking of tree branches and uprooting of trees, major damage to "kutcha" houses, minor damage to "pucca" roads and damage to paddy crops, banana, papaya trees and orchards could occur in south Kerala  (Alappuzha, Kottayam, Idukki, Kollam, Pathanathitta and  Thiruvananthapuram districts), adjoining districts of south Tamil Nadu (Kanyakumari, Tutukudi and Tirunelveli districts) and Lakshadweep Islands.
 
Storm surge of about 1 meter above astronomical tides is very likely to inundate low-lying areas of Lakshadweep Islands from tonight, the bulletin said.
 
Storm surge of about 0.5 meter above astronomical tides is very likely to inundate low-lying areas of coastal districts of south Kerala (Alappuzha, Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram districts), and adjoining districts of south Tamil Nadu (Kanyakumari, Tutukudi and Tirunelveli districts) during the next 12 hours.
 
Fishermen along and off Lakshadweep Islands were advised not to venture into the sea during the next 48 hours. Similarly, fishermen were advised not to venture into the sea along and off South Tamil Nadu coast during the next 24 hours and along and off South Kerala coasts during the next 48 hours.
 
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IMD issues cyclone alert for Lakshadweep Islands

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The India Meteorological Department (IMD) today issued a cyclone alert for the Lakshadweep Islands, with a deep depression over the Comorin area expected to move west-northwestwards and intensify into a cyclonic storm during the next 12 hours.
 
A bulletin issued by the IMD said the depression which had formed over southwest Bay of Bengal near southeast Sri Lanka coast yesterday morning had moved nearly westwards and intensified into a deep depression in the early hours of today and lay centred at 0530 hrs IST of today over Comorin area near latitude 6.7º N and Longitude 78.3º E, about 240 km west-northwest of Galle (Sri Lanka), 170 km southeast of Kanyakumari and 600 km eastsoutheast of Minicoy. 
 
"The system is very likely to move west-northwestwards and intensify further into a cyclonic storm during next 12 hours," it said.
 
The bulletin said that, under the influence of the system, rainfall was very likely at most places over south Tamil Nadu and south Kerala during the next 24 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places and isolated heavy falls during the subsequent 24 hours.
 
It said rainfall was also likely at most places over Lakshadweep area during the  next 48 hours, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and isolated extremely heavy.
 
The bulletin warned that squally winds reaching 55-65 kmph, gusting to 75 kmph, were very likely along and off South Kerala during the next 48 hours and along and off south Tamil Nadu during the next 24 hours.
 
It said squally winds, with speed reaching 55-65 kmph, gusting to 75 kmph, were very likely along and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and gradual increase in wind speed, becoming 70-80 kmph, gusting to 90 kmph, during the subsequent 24 hours.
 
The bulletin said sea conditions would be very rough to high along and off South Kerala during the next 48 hours and along and off south Tamil Nadu during the next 24 hours.
 
Sea conditions would be very rough to high along and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 24 hours and high during the subsequent 24 hours, it said.
 
The bulletin said the storm could cause damage to power and communication lines due to breaking of tree branches and uprooting of trees in Lakshadweep Islands, major damaged to "kutcha" houses and minor damage to "pucca" roads. There could also be damage to paddy crops, banana, papaya trees and orchards.
 
The IMD advised fishermen along and off Lakshadweep Islands not to venture into the sea during the next 48 hours. Fishermen in South Tamil Nadu were also advised not to venture into the sea during the next 24 hours and off the South Kerala coast during the next 48 hours.
 
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Island Development Agency approves holistic development of nine islands

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Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh yesterday reviewed the concept development plans and detailed master plans for the holistic development of nine islands.
 
Of these islands, four are in Andaman & Nicobar Islands -- Smith, Ross, Long and Avis -- and five in Lakshadweep -- Minicoy, Bangaram, Thinnakara, Cheriyam and Suheli, an official press release said.
 
 The project, steered by NITI Aayog, aims at promoting and implementing development based on a sustainable approach to building a thriving maritime economy of the project islands. 
 
Mr. Rajnath Singh, chairing the meeting,  expressed satisfaction at the progress made since the previous meeting on July 24 when directions were given to identify and execute infrastructure and connectivity projects together with provisioning of water and electricity. 
 
The meeting noted that site development potential reports have clearly mapped and delineated environmentally sensitive zones in the project islands and considering the unique maritime and territorial bio-diversity of the islands, enhanced connectivity has been recommended as one of the key priorities. 
 
Accordingly, it was decided that the Naval air station at Shibpur near Diglipur in northern Andaman & Nicobar Islands would be co-used as Joint User Airport. 
 
During the meeting, it was also decided to develop a PPP package, including an airport (Joint User Airport) at Minicoy Island, to unlock the tourism potential.  It was agreed to promote tuna fishing industry for improving livelihoods in Lakshadweep. 
 
Mr Rajnath Singh directed all concerned to expedite implementation of ongoing key infrastructure projects in the islands and develop community-based tourism in consultation with local stakeholders. 
 
NITI Aayog was also asked to drive the formulation of PPP projects and proposed detailed guidelines to boost private sector participation.
 
The IDA was set up on June 1, 2017, following the Prime Minister’s review meeting for the holistic development of islands.
 
The meeting was attended by Lt. Governor of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Admiral D.K. Joshi, former Navy Chief (Vice Chairman of IDA), Cabinet Secretary P. K. Sinha, CEO, NITI Aayog Amitabh Kant, Union Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba, Secretary, Environment, Forest & Climate Change, C. K. Mishra and representatives of Ministries of Tourism, Power, Defence, Health, Telecommunications and Civil Aviation.
 
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Moderate earthquake shakes Lakshadweep Sea region

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An earthquake of moderate intensity, measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale, shook the Lakshadweep Sea region early this morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 5.8°N and longitude 76.0°E, occurred at 0401 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
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Farooq Khan appointed as Administrator of Lakshadweep

Farooq Khan
Farooq Khan
Mr. Farooq Khan, a retired Indian Police Service (IPS) officer, has been appointed as Administrator of the Union Territory of Lakshadweep.
 
His appointment is effective from the date he assumes charge of his office, an official press release said.
 
Mr. Khan, who was an Inspector General of Police (IGP) in Jammu & Kashmir, headed the Sher-e-Kashmir Police Academy at Udhampur before his retirement from the IPS.
 
He had joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in March 2015 and a year later was appointed as one of its national secretaries. He was also put in charge of the party's Minority Morcha.
 
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Navy carries out humanitarian assistance, disaster relief exercises

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The Indian Navy carried out large-scale Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) exercises, involving more than 20 ships from the Western and Eastern Fleet and various aircraft of the Indian Navy, yesterday in the Lakshadweep Islands region, including Karavati, Aggatti, Kalpeni and Androth.
 
An official press release said the exercise simulated a major cyclone striking the Lakshdweep Islands and disrupting essential services, causing widespread destruction of property, loss of life and dislocation of personnel, and was designed to validate the Indian Navy’s capability to provide immediate succour and relief to the affected populace. 
 
The exercise involved setting up medical camps, provision of food, shelter from the elements, restoration of basic facilities and limited restoration work till the situation stabilised.
           
The release said the Navy had the inherent capacity and capability to reach outlying islands and coastal areas, with relief and rehabilitation material and continuously prepares for this task.
 
"This exercise will further underscore the nation’s capabilities in being the ‘first responder’ in the region during times of humanitarian crises," it said.
 
The exercise covered an area of approximately 8000 square miles in the Indian Ocean, the release added.
 
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Cabinet okays continuation of helicopter services in Lakshadweep Islands by Pawan Hans

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The Union Cabinet today gave its approval to a proposal for continuation of helicopter services by Pawan Hans Limited (PHL) for inter-island connectivity in the Lakshadweep Islands for a further period of five years with effect from 01.04.2012 to 31.03.2017.
 
The Cabinet also approved a proposal for meeting the cost of hiring or chartering helicopters from PHL by provision of Central Government subsidy of the order of Rs. 1,900.64 lakh approximately per annum. 
 
An official press release said charges towards Service Tax and foreign exchange fluctuation will be met by the administration of the Union Territory (UT) of Lakshadweep/Ministry of Home Affairs for this purpose. 

We have to improve our death bowling: Dhoni

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni stressed the importance of death bowling after Chennai Super Kings stole a thriller against Royal Challengers in the Indian Premier League (IPL) here tonight.

"The performance was great, we need to improve our death bowling drastically. We didn't get off to a good start, the pressure was there on the middle order. You can't really afford to play too many dot balls, you have to be there till the 15th or 16th over to cash in," said Dhoni.
 
Man of the Match Ravindra Jadeja, who nowadays is ridiculed as Sir Jadeja on the social media, said he was not trying to play silly shots.
 
"(With reference to Sir) they are just making fun in a lighter way, not a serious way. I was confident about my batting, I scored two triple-hundreds this season. I was not trying to play any silly shots, it was a good wicket," he said.
 
Royal Challengers skipper Virat Kohli said his team lost the match in the last six over.
 
"It was our game to lose in the last six overs. We are relying on big partnership as of now, a few small partnerships will do good for us. RP, T20 is a game like that, I'm still proud of him," he said.
 
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Coast Guard station commissioned on Androth Island in Lakshadweep

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A new Coast Guard station was commissioned yesterday on Androth Island in Lakshadweep by Vice-Admiral K N Sushil, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command. 

The Force already operates two stations in the Lakshadweep Islands -- at Kavaratti where District Headquarters No 12 has been established and at Minicoy; both of which were commissioned by Defence Minister A K Antony in December 2010. 
 
Speaking on the occasion, Admiral Sushil dwelt upon the need for continuing coordination and synergy between various stakeholders involved in maritime and coastal security. 
 
Vice-Admiral M P Muralidharan, Director General Indian Coast Guard highlighted the several initiatives taken by the Coast Guard to augment manpower and force levels to meet existing and future challenges. Setting up of stations at strategically important locations, such as Androth, would provide the requisite fillip to coastal security efforts, he stated. 
 
ICGS Androth will function under Coast Guard District headquarters No 12. The Indian Coast Guard is also in the process of setting up a chain of static sensors with Automatic Identification System along the entire coastline of the country to enable effective monitoring of shipping and fishing traffic. 
 
An Air Station of the Indian Coast Guard is also on the anvil at Minicoy, an official press release added.
 
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Man accused of 1992 murder of Indian family in Dubai sentenced to death

A CBI court in Ahmedabad has convicted Ravjibhai Manubhai Pawar of the murder of his Indian employer and four other members of his family in Dubai in 1992 and sentenced him to death.

A press release from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said that its investigations had shown that Pawar, while working as a domestic servant in Dubai, had kileld Mr Ramesh K Sagar and four others of Mr Sagar's family on January 4, 1992.

He was also accused of rape and of stealing household articles, including clothes, ornaments and cash.

Pawar feld from Dubai on January 5 and came to India. On the basis of an Interpol alert, he was nabbed on January 10 by the Gujarat police and a first information report (FIR)was registered.

Since the accused was an Indian national and the offence took place outside India, the case was entrusted to the CBI. The Dubai Police had also registered an FIR and collected evidence, which was used by the CBI during investigation and trial of the case, the release said.

The chargesheet was filed on January 23, 1992 in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Chikhli. The trial court found him guilty and convicted him.

The case was registered by the CBI, Ahmedabad (now Gandhinagar) Branch on April 27, 1992 on the basis of the request and consent of the Government of Gujarat for futher investigation of the case filed at the Chikhli Police Station, the release added.

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28 pirates surrender before Naval forces in Lakshadweep


Sustained and relentless anti-piracy operations by the Indian Navy and Coast Guard bore fruit once again when a batch of 28 more pirates were forced to surrender early today, at about 100 nautical miles off Kavaratti in Lakshadweep.


INS Tir of Southern Naval Command (SNC), deployed off Kavaratti, was asked to locate the pirates who had carried out an aborted attack on merchant ship MT Chios at about 1600 hours yesterday, naval sources told UNI.


SNC launched a Dornier aircraft which located the skiffs and their mother vessel at about 2000 hours the same day, they said, adding that the naval aircraft passed the location coordinates to INS Tir, which promptly reached the area.


The ship, however, continued tracking skiffs and the mother vessel till today morning to ensure proper identification and prevent an accident.


Coast Guard vessel CGS Samar joined the operations in the morning at about 0500 hours. On being ordered to stop and prepare to be boarded, the pirates aboard the skiffs opened fire.


After correctly identifying the mother vessel as Prantalay 11, the ships contacted Prantalay 11 on radio and asked it to stop, the sources said.


However, again, the pirates fired, upon which the Navy and Coast Guards retaliated. The pirates immediately signalled their intention to surrender by hoisting a white flag.


A mix of pirates and crew-members who were being held hostage aboard the trawler were apprehended by INS Tir and CGS Samar and transferred to the latter.


The Coast Guard ship was now en route to Mumbai with 28 pirates and 24 Thai fishermen with Prantalay under tow. The pirates and hostages will be handed over to police, the sources added.


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Indian forces sink pirate vessel, rescue 20 hostages; take 15 pirates in custody


In a joint operation, the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard on Friday intercepted Prantalay, a pirate mother vessel which was being used by Somali pirates since April 2010 for piracy at various locations in the Arabian Sea.


This vessel had been a risk to international shipping for many months and carried out several attacks, a press release said here today.


A Coast Guard Dornier, while responding to a Mayday call from MV CMA CGM Verdi, a Bahamas-flagged container ship, located two skiffs attempting a piracy attack. Seeing the aircraft, the skiffs immediately aborted their attempt and dashed towards the mother vessel Prantalay which hurriedly hoisted the two skiffs onboard and set a westerly course to escape from the area.


This action cleared all doubts of Prantalay being used by pirates as a mother vessel. Whilst CG and IN Dorniers continuously tracked Prantalay, Indian Naval Ship Cankarso (a recently commissioned Water Jet Fast Attack Craft), which was already deployed in the area for anti piracy patrol, was directed to intercept and investigate Prantalay.


INS Cankarso closed Prantalay and made all efforts to establish communication on the international Mercantile Marine Band, but the vessel did not respond and continued to proceed westwards in the hope of escaping, it added.


In keeping with internationally accepted norms, Cankarso fired a warning shot well ahead of the bows of Prantalay to compel her to stop. Instead of stopping, however, Prantalay suddenly opened fire on INS Cankarso.


The release said INS Cankarso returned limited fire in self-defence out of necessity and as a proportionate measure only. Thereafter it was observed that a fire had broken out on Prantalay (mother vessels are known to carry additional fuel drums to fuel the skiffs). Personnel were also seen jumping overboard.


INS Cankarso recovered 20 fishermen of Thai and Myanmarese nationality. These were the original crew of the fishing vessel and were being held hostage for several months. Prantalay is a Thai fishing vessel which had been hijacked by Somali pirates in April 2010 and had thereafter been used as "mother vessel" for piracy operations.


In addition to the fishermen, 15 pirates were also recovered, under humanitarian considerations. INS Cankarso was subsequently joined by INS Kalpeni and CGS Sankalp. Naval and Coast Guard ships and aircraft are presently in the area searching for any other fishermen/pirates.


In addition to the anti-piracy patrols being sustained in the Gulf of Aden since October 2008, in view of the dangers from vessels such as Prantalay, the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard had been maintaining a vigil west of the Lakshadweep Islands in the last two months.


This had proved effective in keeping the international shipping lanes in this region safe from piracy attacks and piracy incidents in this area have seen a 75 per cent decline since December 2010, the release said.


According to it, South Eastern Arabian Sea is a focal point of international traffic and the security of these sea lanes in the Arabian Sea was critical to the flow of global trade.


The manner in which the firm and resolute actions by the Indian Navy and the Indian Coast Guard were undertaken demonstrates the nation's determination to strengthen safety of merchant shipping in the international sea lanes in the Arabian Sea with due regard to international humanitarian law, even when dealing with a group of hardened pirates, the release said.


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Indian Navy, Coast Guard disrupt suspicious craft in East Arabian Sea

Indian Navy and Coast Guard units disrupted and chased away two skiffs who were moving suspiciously in the vicinity of a merchant vessel west of the Lakshadweep Islands this morning.


An official press release said the Navy and the Coast Guard had been mantaining a vigilant watch in the area for pirate boats in the last two months and this had helped to keep the area free of piracy incidents.


During one such aircraft surveillance sortie at 1030 hours today, a Coast Guard Dornier on routine patrol located two white skiffs in the vicinity of the merchant vessel, MV CMA CGM Berdi.


The aircraft descended and passed over the skiffs and chased them away. A mother vessel Prantalay was also sighted by the patrol aircraft in the area. MV CMA Berdi is a Bahamas flag container carrier.

Because of the timely arrival of the aircraft the merchant vessel is now safe and heading for its next port of Call in East Asia, the release said. The suspicious mother vessel Prantalay continues to be monitored by Navy and Coast Guard units.


The release said anti-piracy patrols and surveillane in the East Arabian Sea would continue to assure merchant vessels using the international shipping lanes in the Arabia Sea of their security.


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