Cyclone Ockhi: Maha, Guj on high alert; Kerala toll at 25

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They rescued 19 rescued fishermen from the high seas off the Colachel coast in Kanyakumari besides salvaging their vessel and brought them to safety in the harbour.

Sitharaman further said at least 71 fishermen have been rescued from Tamil Nadu till now.

According to the government, 220 fishermen from Kanyakumari district were rescued out of 294 who went missing due to cyclone while fishing.

The government said search operations were being carried out to locate and rescue the remaining fishermen and their boats.

Cyclonic storm Ockhi, which stranded hundreds of fishermen and caused destruction in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Lakshadweep, is likely to intensify in the next 24 hours.

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The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said Ockhi was likely to weaken gradually from Sunday morning. "We were thrown into the sea by the cyclone (Ockhi)". All fishermen have been warned to not venture out and those already out have been asked to return immediately.

Asked about some bodies of fishermen being washed ashore in neighbouring Kerala, Mr. Jayakumar said it was hard to identify the bodies since they were decomposed.

"Eighteen fishing boats and 198 fishermen from Tamilnadu have taken safe shelter in Lakshadweep and Mincioy Group of Islands (western coast)", an official release said. State Governments of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Lakshadweep administration also took prompt action in dealing with the situation. Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said 400 fishermen stranded in the sea were rescued so far by the defence teams while the search and rescue for the rest of the missing fishermen continues in earnest.

The Indian Coast Guard alone has deployed 10 ships, 3 aircraft and a helicopter at sea for the coordinated search and rescue operation in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep islands while the Navy has deployed ten ships besides, four aircraft and four helicopters and the Air Force has deployed an aircraft and two helicopters.

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