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900 fishermen escape cyclone Ockhi, find haven in Devgarh

Devgad 04/12/2017: Fishermen from Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Gujrat rescued from Cyclone Ockhi threat off Konkan coast, stranded at Devgarh Port in Sindhudurg district from past 4 days. Fisherman await for green signal to reach their destination as they were running out of ration supply.
Photo: Rajendra Gawankar.

Devgad 04/12/2017: Fishermen from Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Gujrat rescued from Cyclone Ockhi threat off Konkan coast, stranded at Devgarh Port in Sindhudurg district from past 4 days. Fisherman await for green signal to reach their destination as they were running out of ration supply. Photo: Rajendra Gawankar.   | Photo Credit: Rajendra Gawankar

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Coast Guard rescue 120 fishing boats caught in cyclone off Kerala; survivors say essential supplies including food, medicine running out as more boats arrive

Mumbai: Close to 900 fishermen from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Gujarat have safely reached Devgarh port in Sindhudurg district after being rescued by the Indian Coast Guard from the path of Cyclone Ockhi. In all, 120 boats, each bearing 15 to 20 fishermen, have docked at the port over the last three days, the Coast Guard said.

The boats were on a fishing trip near Kozhikode, Kerala when Ockhi hit them, officers said, injuring many of the fishermen. Whle one suffered a dislocated hip, 95 others are being treated for injuries at the Devgarh Government Hospital.

The small coastal town was unprepared for their arrival, and is struggling to provide them with medical help, sanitation and food, local residents said. “The facilities available are not sufficient for so many people. Our sympathies are with them, but the government has to step in,” A. Shirke, a local fisherman, said.

Jonas Alligel, 38, was on his bi-monthly fishing trip when the cyclone hit on the open seas. “There was no sign of danger when I left for the trip. We came to know when we were rowing north from Beypore village.”

As reports of the devastation wrought by Ockhi along the southern coastline came in, Mr. Alligel, a Kanyakumaari resident, says he is worried for his family. “When I spoke to my wife on Sunday, she said they don't feel safe at home as cyclonic conditions were strong. She said some people had been killed, and nothing has changed on ground despite the government’s efforts. That was the last time I spoke to her. I can’t get through to her due to poor mobile network.”

Residents and NGOs have joined hands with the government teams, distributing food packets and setting up medical camps. Arun Seeda, 35, a fisherman from Kodi village in Kerala, said, “Local people have helped us a lot. The experience at sea has been very traumatic.”

Amol Tamhankar, Devgarh in-charge for the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB), said 25 boats from Gujarat, 70 from Tamil Nadu and 50 from Kerala have been harboured at the creek near Devgarh port. “We’re trying our best to meet the needs here, including food and medical supplies. A Signal 3 cyclone warning has been sounded, which means it isn't safe for fishermen to enter the sea yet. We’ve been told the warning will hold till December 6.”

Survivors fear shortage

Francis Alphonso, a fisherman from Trivandrum, said food given by the port authorities isn’t sufficient. “It’s enough for only 50% of the people rescued. The rest are managing with food we stocked in our boats, but that is almost over. Fishermen from almost 50 boats are hungry. The smaller boats don't have enough food stocked.”

His compatriot Jijesh Srinivas from Kodi Mani, Kerala said they were given three kg of rice and a gas cylinder for 20-member crew when they reached Devgarh two days ago.The crew was among the first to reach the coastal town. “As more boats come in, food supply is falling short. We haven't received anything after the first day as more recent arrivals are being prioritised.”

"My boat was one of the first to be rescued. The first day, we got a proper meal. My injured friends were taken to hospital. Now, as the number of rescued goes up, authorities are falling short of basic supplies. Many of the injured are only getting first aid as the hospital is overcrowded. No one is sure about the next meal,” fisherman S.Mothinan from Kozhikode said.

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Printable version | Dec 13, 2019 1:15:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/900-fishermen-escape-ockhi-find-haven-in-devgarh/article21262387.ece

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