At least 8 dead as Cyclone Ockhi lashes Tamil Nadu and Kerala


Goa has no threat from potentially damaging tropical cyclone called "Ockhi", which has intensified into cyclonic storm about 70 km off the Kerela coast (south of Thiruvananthapuram), which is 800-900 km away from the Goa coast.

The name Ockhi, given by Bangladesh, is expected to move further north-westward towards Lakshwadeep, he said.

The Railways have cancelled a few trains completely and others partially due to heavy rains lashing the southern parts of Kerala. The havoc has claimed eight lives including four lives in Kanyakumari and four lives in South Kerala with about 180 fishermen from Poonthura missing and brought many parts of South Kerala into a standstill with tree fall, jamming electricity and cable wires along the roads leaving traffic haywire in many parts.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan convened an emergency meeting of officials.

Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday said several naval ships and maritime aircraft were deployed for a rescue work as Tamil Nadu and Kerala braced for a powerful cyclonic storm.

ALERT FOR SABARIMALA PILGRIMS: The Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) advised pilgrims to the Ayyappa Temple in Sabarimala to avoid the trek between 6 pm and 7 am. The Thiruvananthapuram district administration suspended classes in educational institutions in the afternoon. Schools in seven districts of the state including Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari and Virudhunagar remained closed on Thursday.

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Chief minister informed media that four navy ships were deployed for the rescue operations in sea and two helicopters of Air Force would accompany the ships. Gale wind speed reaching 65-75 km per hour gusting to 85 kmph very likely along and off south Kerala during the next 48 hours.

"Due to this heavy rains are expected in southern districts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala", the IMD said in a statement. With that, Squally winds speed reaching 55-65 kmph gusting to 75 kmph very likely along and around Lakshadweep Islands during next 12 hours and increase thereafter with wind speeds becoming 80 to 90 kmph gusting to 100 kmph from tonight of November 30, INCOIS scientists said. Shutters of Neyyar Dam were opened following heavy rain in catchment areas.In Idukki district, a portion of St Sebastian's school fell down, but no injuries have been reported so far. Further, damage to paddy crops, banana, Papaya trees and orchards is also warned in the region.

Sea conditions would be "very rough to high" over and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 12 hours and "high to very high" during subsequent 48 hours, the IMD added.

At least four people were reportedly killed in Tamil Nadu storm-related incidents.

Vizhinjam coastal police said they received information that at least 57 fishermen, who had put out to sea from Thumba to Pozhiyur since yesterday, were yet to return.