Four people died in Kanyakumari as heavy rain and strong winds caused by cyclonic storm Ockhi lashed the southern coast of India on Thursday, ANI reported. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan called an emergency meeting of the Cabinet as at least 80 fishermen were reported missing on the state’s coast, the Hindustan Times reported.
A rickshaw driver was earlier reported dead in Kerala’s Kollam city when a tree fell on him, according to The News Minute. Sub-divisional magistrates have asked all disaster rehabilitation centres in Kollam to be ready if people need to evacuated.
Three ships and two aircraft have been sent to assist the search for six fishing boats and a marine engineering vessel, which went missing near Vizhinjam.
Ockhi headed towards Lakshadweep on Thursday afternoon, causing heavy rains in the southern districts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, The Indian Express reported. There was widespread damage to property in Kanyakumari, Nagercoil, Lakshadweep, Thiruvanathapuram and Kollam.
Schools in Thiruvanathapuram will remain closed on Friday, The News Minute reported. Several passenger trains between Kanyakumari and Thiruvananthapuram have been cancelled.
“The cyclone is getting stronger but it is moving away from the Kerala coast,” S Sudevan, a scientist at the India Meteorological Department’s regional centre in Chennai told The Indian Express. He said fishermen had been warned not to venture out to the sea.
The weatherman issued an “orange” alert on Thursday for the cyclonic storm. An orange alert signifies a cyclone warning.
The cyclonic storm is expected to reach the severe status by Friday evening, the IMD said. It will cause heavy rain at most places in southern Tamil Nadu and Kerala over the next 24 hours and in Lakshadweep over the next 48 hours.
The storm could have wind speeds of 70-80 km per hour by the end of Thursday, and around 100 km per hour by Saturday morning.
On Tuesday, the meteorological department officials had said another low pressure system was forming in the Bay of Bengal, which could turn into a cyclonic storm and hit the country’s east coast by December 4.