Over 500 fishermen rescued; Ockhi hovers over SE Arabian sea

Over 500 fishermen rescued; Ockhi hovers over SE Arabian sea

The storm has so far claimed at least 26 lives, killing 13 in India, and 13 more in Sri Lanka, with officials saying many fishermen are still feared to be trapped at sea.

Over 690 people, including 357 fishermen, have been rescued in joint operations by the Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force, said Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman who reached Kanyakumari on Sunday to take stock of the situation in the wake of the cyclonic storm.

Twentynine relief camps have been set up to accommodate those marooned in coastal areas.

Scores of localities suffered flooding and power cuts and suspended communications as winds of up to 130 kilometres (80 miles) per hour swept the region.

The India Meteorological Department said heavy rains and strong winds lashed Lakshadweep on Saturday.

The tiny Indian island of Lakshadweep off the country's western coast braced for winds of 145km/h. Schools and colleges in parts of India's southern states have been shut as authorities try to restore almost 4,000 snapped power lines.

Meteorological Department (IMD) has already warned that "high waves" towering 3-4.9m would be seen 10 km off Kerala's coast today. "Seven people died in several incidents and 218 were rescued from the sea", an agency official told AFP.

With "Ockhi" wreaking havoc in South Tamil Nadu, the Tamil Nadu government said it will soon seek central funds for the damage caused by the cyclone.

In 1999, more than 8,000 people were killed when a cyclone battered the eastern state of Orissa.

This was conveyed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by Chief Minister K Palaniswami during a telephone conversation between the two leaders last night, a state government release said.

"It is likely to move north-northeastwards, weaken gradually and cross south Gujarat and north Maharashtra coasts by early Tuesday morning and settle as a deep depression", The Hindustan Times reported quoting IMD's director general KJ Ramesh as saying.