At least eight people were killed and scores injured as heavy rains accompanied by gusty winds battered south Kerala coast and neighbouring Kannyakumari in Tamil Nadu on Thursday under the influence of cyclone Ockhi which is heading towards Lakshadweep islands.
Four deaths each were reported from South Kerala and Kanyakumari where gusty winds uprooted hundreds of trees and electric poles, destroying scores of houses and blocking vehicular traffic. Train service in the Thiruvananthapuram-Kannyakumari sector was also affected.
Indian Navy has deployed four ships and two aircraft following reports that more than 300 fishermen who ventured into the sea on Wednesday evening from Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam districts failed to return to the coast. Four Indian Air Force (IAF) Aircraft were kept ready for the search and rescue operations.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan held an emergency meeting in the state capital to take stock of the situation in view of the cyclone Ockhi, which in Bengali means ''eye.'' He issued directions to the district collectors in Southern districts to take effective steps to meet any eventuality.
The Sea turned rough, forcing the Thiruvananthapuram district administration to evacuate those living 100 meters off the coast. Water level in major rivers was raising alarmingly after shutters of several dams were opened in view of the heavy rainfall in catchment areas.
A report from Kanyakumari said around 850 people were shifted to ten relief camps as scores of houses were destroyed in Vadaserry, Nagercoil, Thuckalay, Marthandam, Colachel, Kanyakumari, Kaliyakkavilai, Aralvaimozhi, Eethamozhi and other areas. Senior officials are reviewing the situation.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi also cancelled his scheduled two-day visit in view of the weather conditions. He was scheduled to address a public meeting at Shanghumugham on Friday.
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