Cyclone Ockhi wrecks havoc in TN, 5 die

Depression alert over south Andaman Sea
Report by: 
1 Dec 2017

A low pressure system over the South Andaman Sea is expected to turn into a depression in the next 48 hours, which may bring more rainfall to Tamil Nadu, as the death toll due to Cyclone Ockhi in Kanyakumari district rose to five today.

The deaths occurred in cyclone-related incidents in the district. Chief minister K Palaniswami announced a solatium of Rs 4 lakh to the kin of each of the victims, said an official release. "A well marked low pressure is lying over South Andaman Sea and its neighbourhood. It is expected to concentrate into a depression in the next 48 hours," Regional Meteorological Centre sirector S Balachandran said. Balachandran said the system is likely to move towards north Tamil Nadu and south Andhra coast in the next four days. "This is the current situation and we are monitoring the system", he added. In the next 24 hours, more rainfall is expected in most places in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

Heavy rainfall can be expected in Nilgiris, Coimbatore, Theni and Dindigul, he said and added that fishermen have been advised not to venture into the sea along the Kanyakumari coast and Arabian Sea. Cyclone Ockhi, which in Bengali means 'eye', today intensified into a severe cyclonic storm and moved to the Arabian Sea. An IMD bulletin said Ockhi over Southeast Arabian Sea continued to move west-northwestwards with a speed of 13 kmph. It lies over Lakshadweep area and adjoining southeast Arabian Sea about 90km northeast of Minicoy and 270km south-southeast of Amini Divi.  "The system is very likely to intensify further during the next 24 hours," the bulletin said.
Widespread rainfall has been reported in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry with Papanasam (Tirunelveli district) recording 45 cm rain, Balachandran said. Very heavy rainfall occurred in 21 places, he said. The official said the rainfall for the Oct 1-Nov 27 period, which was about 18 per cent less than usual in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, has improved substantially due to the rains brought by the cyclone.

The Coast Guard has deployed two ships - Vaibhav and Aadesh - besides a Dornier aircraft for search and rescue operations in the sea off Kanyakumari. Five Kanyakumari district fishermen have not returned to the shore after they went into sea two days ago, police said. Tamil Nadu minister for revenue and disaster management R B Udhaya Kumar, deputed to Kanyakumari to monitor relief work, said steps have been taken to drain the water logged in the areas. He said electricity department personnel were trying to restore the power supply in the district. More than 500 trees were uprooted in the district as the rains accompanied by gusty winds left a trail of destruction in the district on Thursday.

Trees in the premises of the famous Padmanabhapuram Palance too were uprooted. A portion of roof-tiles were also damaged, officials said. With rains continuing to hit normal life in south Tamil Nadu, authorities today declared a holiday for schools and colleges in five districts, including Kanyakumari. The Central Water Commission (CWC) has asked authorities in Tamil Nadu to closely monitor the Ponnaiyar river for the next five-seven days after a shutter of the Krishnagiri dam got damaged recently, forcing release of water downstream, and in view of the cyclone. The reservoir on the river is located near Periyamuthur village, about 10 km from Krishnagiri town in the state's Krishnagiri district.

Heavy rains continued to lash coastal areas of Kerala today, crippling normal life, even as Cyclone Ockhi lay centered about 80km north-northeast of Minicoy in Lakshadweep. About 150 fishermen, who put out to sea from various southern districts, were rescued, Thiruvananthapuram district commissioner K Vasuki said, adding that efforts were on to bring the rest of the stranded fishermen to the shore. "There is no need to panic," she said. The rescued fishermen included those who were saved by a Japanese cargo vessel.