Search and rescue operations to trace the fishermen missing in the aftermath of Ockhi cyclone continued for 10th day today even as 67 persons caught in the storm, returned to Kochi coast. An Indian Air Force transport aircraft covered 10,880 square nautical miles south of Kanyakumari coast in the Indian ocean, a Defence spokesperson said. Another AN-32 aircraft along with local fishermen conducted search and rescue operations. Meanwhile, Latin Catholic Church in Thiruvananthapuram district, to which most of the cyclone-hit fishermen belonged,
observed a ‘prayer-day’ and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit the affected coastal belt to take stock of the
situation. A message, read out during prayer in the churches, said the cyclone should be declared as a national disaster and centre should provide more funds for rehabilitation of the victims. The community members would hold a march to Raj Bhavan here tomorrow to press for its charter of demands.
As per the Church, more than 300 fishermen were still missing. According to reports from Kochi, as many as 67 fishermen who had gone to high seas for fishing and caught in the cyclone, returned to the shore. The fishermen reached in six boats separately. While some came last night, the others arrived in the small hours today in their fishing boats, the officials coordinating rescue and relief operations said. Many of them were trapped in Lakshadweep area. Out of 67 fishermen, 49 are from Tamil Nadu, 13 from Kerala, four from Assam and one from Andhra Pradesh, they said. Some of the fishermen who were found exhausted have been admitted to the Kochi government hospital, they added.
Meanwhile, a Defence spokesman said a fishing vessel which sailed from Kochi had been located safe on return
passage in 130 nautical mile North West of Kavaratti, Lakshadweep.He said four fishermen and one medical officer from Vizhinjam in Thiruvananthapuram have joined a Navy team conducting search and rescue operations in high seas. Yesterday, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had submitted a memorandum to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi, seeking a financial assistance of Rs 1834 crore in view of the loss suffered by the state due to the cyclone. Vijayan urged the Centre to announce a long-term package similar to the National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project considering the gravity of the disaster. The memorandum stated that as per the present estimate,
38 persons have died in the cyclone-related incidents and 96 fishermen were still missing.
A total of 771 fishing boats have been affected. Besides, as many as 5,656 fishermen were rescued and 159
out of them were under treatment in hospitals for serious injuries, it was stated. The cyclone had also caused damage to crops in 2,053 hectares of land affecting 15,104 farmers. A total of 207 houses were completely damaged while 2,753 partially suffered damage, the memorandum pointed out. The Kerala government had requested the Navy, Coast Guard and Indian Air Force to continue the search operations for the missing fishermen for another 10 days.