Eight dead in Kerala, Tamil Nadu as Cyclone Ockhi heads towards Lakshadweep

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Tamil Nadu and Kerala are on high alert after incessant rains and strong winds lashed several areas of the states, according to media reports.

Besides Kanyakumari, Tuticorin and Tirunelveli districts were among those battered by the rains.

Multiple forecasts said that Ockhi is likely to hit Lakshadweep Islands on December 2.

Earlier this month heavy rains lashed Tamil Nadu sparking memories of Cyclone Vardah from past year and the floods of 2015 that killed over 400 people, and caused mass destruction in Chennai and nearby areas.

The metrological office said that heavy rains and winds in the southern districts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu were due to a depression formed over southwest Bay of Bengal near the Sri Lanka coast and it had moved westwards and intensified into a deep depression in the early hours of Thursday.

Madhavan Rajeevan, secretary in the ministry, said the archipelago in the southern part of the Arabian Sea will start experiencing heavy rainfall and strong winds from Friday. With that chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan through video conferencing called for an emergency response across the state by KSDMA in coordination with the district collectors and officials of various departments in the state. The Thiruvananthapuram district administration suspended classes in educational institutions in the afternoon. Storm surge of about 0.5 meter above astronomical tides very likely to inundate low lying areas of coastal districts of south Kerala and adjoining districts of south Tamil Nadu during the next 12 hours.

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"Do not come out of homes in Kanyakumari, Tuticorin, and Tirunelveli stay safe indoors and take precautions do not panic", it said in a tweet.

A couple of trains, originating and passing through this district, were cancelled partially or fully and some of them were rescheduled, Southern Railway officials said.

Due to bad weather, a scheduled two-day programme of Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, which was to begin tomorrow in Kerala, has been cancelled, party sources said.

Heavy rains and high intensity winds in Thoothukudi and Kanyakumari uprooted trees, snapped power lines and damaged settlements close to the sea. No warning has been issued to fishermen against venturing into the sea. In several places, electric posts got uprooted. Fisheries minister J Mercy Kutty Amma who visited coastal areas in the district told reporters that seven navy boats had been requisitioned to trace missing fishermen and bring them to safety.

The Southern Naval Command was also gearing up for any humanitarian assistance and disaster relief that may be required in view of the cyclone in the southern parts of Kerala, defence statement added.

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