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Fishermen join rescue operations in Kerala

Irked by delay: Families of fishermen block the road at Kollankodu in Kanniyakumari on Sunday.

Irked by delay: Families of fishermen block the road at Kollankodu in Kanniyakumari on Sunday.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Protests continued in the coastal districts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu on Sunday even as rescue efforts continued to locate 96 fishermen still missing after Cyclone Ockhi.

As many as 690 fishermen have been rescued so far, with the operations entering the fourth day. However, members of the community blocked roads in various parts of the State, alleging delay in rescue.

Later, ignoring the repeated pleas of the authorities, 150 fishermen set sail in over 50 boats from Vizhinjam and Poonthura to rescue the missing.

The government then included fisherfolk in rescue operations being carried out by the Navy, the IAF and the Coast Guard.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who visited the affected coastal areas, said on Sunday that 357 fishermen, including 71 from Tamil Nadu, had been rescued. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said 28 boats, carrying 321 fishermen, had safely reached the Ratnagiri coast on Sunday.

Of these, 23 are from Tamil Nadu, three from Kerala and two from Karnataka, Mr Fadnavis said. “Due to #CycloneOckhi 28 more boats with 321 fishermen landed at Ratnagiri today,” he tweeted.

The death toll following the cyclone rose to 26 in Kerala. According to the State Emergency Operations Centre, the authorities were yet to identify 11 of the deceased and 160 rescued people were under treatment.

Union Minister of State for Tourism K.J. Alphons visited the affected areas along the coastline and also took part in a meeting attended by the Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to review the ongoing rescue operation.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also arrived at the State capital, from where she proceeded to Kanyakumari to assess the extent of losses.

The Minister held discussions with Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief minister O. Panneerselvam, ministers and officials.

Ms Sitharaman is slated to visit affected areas including Nagercoil, Neerodi and Susheendram besides holding discussions with local fishing folk, a defence official said.

Roads blocked

Irked over delay in rescuing missing fishermen, scores of fisher folks blocked the Kollengode road and demanding that the government expedite rescue efforts.

The agitated protesters, many in tears, demanded that the government deploy additional search and rescue vessels and also inform them about the identity of rescued fishermen.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E.K Palaniswami said in Coimbatore that work to rescue fishermen was on in full swing with the Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard deploying aircraft and ships.

Power connection will be fully restored in a day or two in cyclone-hit Kanyakumari district, the Chief Minister said.

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 2:00:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/fishermen-join-rescue-operations-in-kerala/article21255745.ece

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