Cyclone Ockhi: Reports of thousands of fishermen stranded untrue, says Sitharaman

New Delhi: As the Cyclone Ockhi intensified into a severe cyclonic storm, Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said the reports of thousands of fishermen stranded in the cyclone were false and the number of missing Tamil Nadu fishermen was 97.

“The Indian Navy, India Coast Guard, Indian Air Force have rescued fishermen from Tamil Nadu and Kerala too. Per the letter from Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary, missing Tamil Nadu fishermen is 97. Rescue operations are continuing” she said in a tweet.

Sitharaman further said at least 71 fishermen have been rescued from Tamil Nadu till now.

“The Coast Guard is at it, with all its strength to rescue the rest. Hoping for good news soon,” she tweeted.

The defence minister also thanked Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for helping Kerala’s fishermen, who were caught in the cyclone and reached Maharashtra’s Devagad minor port today.

The chief minister said his government would look after the fishermen till “weather permits them to go back”.

“In all 68 fishing boats have reached, out of which 66 are from Kerala and 2 from Tamil Nadu with total 952 fishermen on board. All are safe,” Fadnavis said in a tweet.

He further said orders have been given to Maharashtra Maritime Board and Sindhudurg District Collector to make all arrangements for the stranded fishermen.

Earlier in the day, India Meteorological Department claimed that cyclone Ockhi would intensify in the next 36 hours and move Northwest in the next three to four days.

“Cyclone circulation lies over South-West bay of Tamil Nadu, also well marked low pressure area over south Andaman sea and neighbourhood is persisting. Low pressure expected to intensify over next 36 hours expected to move in 3-4 days in North West direction. This situation is being monitored,” director of Chennai’s Met department told ANI.

Cyclone Ockhi has lashed the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu and Kerala on Saturday with torrential rainfall and gusty winds.

Seven people, five in Trivandrum and one each in Kollam and Kasaragod districts have died. (ANI)