Defence Minister meets cyclone Ockhi-hit families in Kerala, assures help

Defence Minister meets cyclone Ockhi-hit families in Kerala, assures help

Defence Minister meets cyclone Ockhi-hit families in Kerala, assures help

The Indian Navy has pressed into action 10 ships, as well as eight aircraft, including the Boeing P8i patrol aircraft, for search and rescue operation, as hundreds of fishermen from the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala have gone missing as the cyclone hovered near their coasts last weekend bringing high-speed winds and heavy rains.

Three bodies were brought here, while three were found out off the coast of Kollam.

With this, the total number of rescued fishermen crossed 530, with another 50 still remaining untraced. Archbishop of the Latin Diocese here M Susaipakiam, who was accompanying him, pacified the fishermen and their family members who expressed their ire for the failure of the state government in not informing about the cyclone in advance and then for not undertaking the rescue operations "in a proper manner".

"I will keep my focus on the rescue and search operations", said the Minister and added that she would meet her colleagues, who handle the agriculture and home portfolios and pass on the message about the situation here.

Naval ships, choppers and Coast Guard vessels are engaged in the rescue and relief operations and efforts are on to trace around 100 missing fishermen.

The state department also said that at least 690 people have been rescued so far, while 96 were still missing.

The government agencies at the Centre and affected states are regularly monitoring the cyclonic storm and are conducting necessary relief and rescue operations. "We have been demanding opening of a control room in our area but nothing has happened", said a Poonthura resident. But Vijayan continued to brush aside all allegations and kept insisting that his government received the central alert "only around Thursday noon". By the time he made a decision to do so, enough damage had been done and he lost face among people who trusted his government.

Pastor of a local church at Vizhinjam said the search operations should continue intensively and the compensation should be disbursed by state and central governments in a time-bound manner.

On Sunday evening, Defence Minister Nirmala Seetharaman arrived here and left for Kanyakumari on a helicopter to visit the affected areas in south Tamil Nadu. By the time he chose to visit those affected by the cyclone, it was too late for the CPM leader as the anger of the fisherfolk knew no bounds when they railed against him at the Vizhinjam harbour here.

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