Cyclone Ochki wreaks havoc

 A deep depression in the Bay of Bengal intensified into a cyclonic storm, Ochki, resulting in rain and strong winds in the southern districts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Four persons were killed in each state. Around 180 fishermen in Thiruvananthapuram are reportedly missing.

The storm is expected to hit the Lakshadweep Islands on December 2. A bulletin from the India Meteorological Department said gale wind speeds reaching 65-75 kmph gusting to 85 kmph were very likely along and off south Kerala during the next 48 hours. Fishermen have been advised not to venture into sea. In Tamil Nadu, Kanyakumari district was the worst hit, with over 500 trees coming down in the early hours of Thursday, affecting traffic and disrupting power supply. Hundreds of electricity poles too came down. A fisherman died in the sea, while a search is on for many more who are yet to return to shore.

As the meteorology department had warned of heavy wind two days ahead, fishermen in the coastal hamlets did not venture into sea from Wednesday night. However, many of those who set sail before that are yet to return.

Tamil Nadu CM E K Palainiswami ordered the collectors of Kanyakumari, Tirunelveli and Tuticorin to take relief measures speedily. He said monitoring officers have been appointed to coordinate rescue measures. A team of 70 members from the state disaster response force and two teams of the national disaster response force have rushed to Kanyakumari. The administration has declared a holiday for schools and colleges in Kanyakumari, Tuticorin and Tirunelveli districts on Friday also.

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