39 dead, more than 150 fishermen missing after cyclone Ockhi hits India


Cyclone Ockhi has claimed at least 39 lives while 167 fishermen were still missing after it  hit Tamil Nadu and Kerala coasts.

Joint Secretary in Union Home Ministry, Sanjeev Kumar Jindal, said on Tuesday that the cyclone was slowing down and would have no impact in Gujarat, where the first of the two-phased assembly elections is due four days later.

Jindal told reporters, “As of now, 10 people lost their lives in Tamil Nadu and 29 others in Kerala. Even though the exact number of missing persons were not known, as per available information, whereabouts of 74 fishermen in Tamil Nadu and 93 fishermen in Kerala is not known yet.”

He said that a total of 556 fishermen were also rescued by relief and rescue teams from seas. The affected state governments are verifying with the affected villages to find the exact number of missing fishermen, reported news agency PTI.

Altogether 809 fishermen with their boats from Tamil Nadu and Kerala were swept away and reached Maharashtra coast where they were provided food and shelter.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission today asked poll authorities in Gujarat to ensure that voters in assembly seats falling in the path of cyclone Ockhi are able to cast exercise their franchise on December 9 without inconvenience despite inclement weather.

Citing a weather bulletin, the poll panel pointed out that the movement of the cyclonic depression over parts of Gujarat is likely to be accompanied by a wet spell over the next three-four days.

In a letter to the chief electoral officer of Gujarat, the commission said considering the cyclone alert and the scheduled first phase of polls on December 9, “besides making effective arrangements for immediate relief and rehabilitation, adequate, effective and fool-proof arrangements may also be made… towards the smooth and efficient conduct of the election process”.

It said the authorities should also ensure that all the voters are “able to exercise their franchise without any inconvenience”.

Gujarat goes to polls in two stages on 9 and 14 December, while the counting will take place on 18 December.

(With inputs from PTI)