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02 Dec 2017
India deploys naval ships to render cyclone assistance

"The Indian Navy has deployed four ships and two aircraft to provide assistance in the search for six fishing boats with crew and one marine engineering vessel reported to be missing at sea near Vizhinjam. The vessels went missing under the influence of Cyclone Ockhi that has developed in the Indian Ocean off Kerala, the navy said in a statement. Based on the request received from the District Collector, Thiruvananthapuram, the Southern Naval Command has deployed naval ships Shardul, Nireekshak, Kabra and Kalpeni and two aircraft based at Kochi. The ships and aircraft will carry out search and rescue (SAR) operations in the area and provide any assistance required by the civil administration until the cyclone crosses coast. The Southern Naval Command is also gearing up for any Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) that may be required due to the effects of the storm in the southern part of Kerala. The Indian Navy and coast guard ships on Friday rescued as many as 59 people stranded at the sea in Trivandrum due to cyclone Ockhi. Meanwhile, the Home Minister Office through its official Twitter account informed that NDRF teams were moved to affected areas. ""HM Shri Rajnath Singh spoke to DG NDRF and reviewed the situation in the areas affected by cyclone Ockhi. The NDRF teams have already been moved to the affected areas. More teams are on standby to respond to any further emergencies. MHA is also closely monitoring the situation."" Several warships were deployed for rescue operations as heavy rain accompanied by strong winds battered the southernmost coast of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. At least eight people – four each in two states – as deep depression over the Comorin Sea intensified into cyclone Ockhi. Meanwhile, authorities have announced that schools in Chennai, Kanyakumari, Tuticorin, Kancheepuram, Villupuram, Madurai, Theni, Thanjavur and Thiruvarur will remain closed Friday. Six naval ships and one coast guard ship were deployed from Kochi, and one coast guard ship was deployed from Tuticorn, said Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. Two naval ships have been kept on standby in Lakshadweep, as cyclone Ockhi is heading towards the islands. The storm is expected to hit the islands on December 2. Besides, P8i aircraft, Navy Dornier and Coast Guard Dornier are also airborne for search and rescue operations. Helicopter with divers is also on standby. ""CGS Samarth sailed from Kochi for rescue. All the units are directed to work for rescue along and off Kerala coast. In addition, the Eastern Naval Command will launch P8i Maritime Patrol aircraft,"" said Sitharaman ""INS Sagardhwani sailed to join for Search & Rescue. Total warships deployed SIX (06). For Search & Rescue (SAR) off Kanyakumari India Coast Guard deploying 2 OPVs in the area, and 1 OPV is being deployed ex Toothukudi. Additional Dornier sorties will be taken up from dawn,"" she tweeted. The depression in Southwest Bay of Bengal had snowballed into the cyclonic storm – Ockhi. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said heavy-to-very-heavy rainfall at isolated places was “very likely” over south Tamil Nadu and south Kerala for the next 24 hours. Rainfall will occur at most places, heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places, and extremely heavy rainfall at isolated places, very likely over Lakshadweep area, during next 48 hours”, the IMD said in its weather bulletin. Squally winds, reaching speeds of 55-65 kmph and gusting to 75 kmph, were likely along and around Lakshadweep Islands during the next 12 hours and may increase thereafter with wind speed becoming 80-90 kmph gusting to 100 kmph from Thursday night. For the next 48 hours, the sea conditions would be “very rough to high”, the IMD added. At least 80 fishermen and 50 boats have gone missing after Cyclone Ockhi lashed the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu and Kerala with torrential rainfall and gusty winds. On Thursday, a man in an autorickshaw died in Kollam after a tree fell on the three-wheeler, two others were electrocuted in Trivandrum and a woman died after a tree fell on her house in Vizhinjam due to the cyclone. The deadly storm has killed seven people in neighbouring Sri Lanka and affected the lives of nearly 20,000 people."
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