Ockhi unleashes rain fury in south Tamil Nadu, Kerala; 8 dead

Ockhi unleashes rain fury in south Tamil Nadu, Kerala; 8 dead

As the deep depression over the Kanyakumari region intensified on Thursday into cyclonic storm Ockhi, heavy rain and high winds hit southern parts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, leaving seven people dead.

While four people, including a woman were killed in Tamil Nadu's Kanyakumari district, in Kerala, three people died in Thiruvananthapuram and one in Kollam district.

IMD has predicted heavy to very heavy rain in Lakshadweep and southern parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala till Friday due to the influence of Ockhi (named by Bangladesh).

Shutters of the Neyyar Dam in Kerala were opened and a general alert sounded in surrounding regions. The Thiruvananthapuram district administration suspended classes in educational institutions in the afternoon.

FISHERMEN MISSING: A rough sea and pounding rains worsened fears in Thiruvananthapuram where families await the return of at least 100 fishermen who ventured out early on Thursday. The Southern Naval Command deployed four ships and two aircraft based for the search and rescue operations. The Met Centre advised fishermen in Kerala and Tamil Nadu against venturing into the sea following forecast of squally weather with wind speed reaching 65 kmph to 85 kmph along the coast.

At least four trains connecting Thiruvananthapuram/Kollam and Nagercoil/Kanyakumari were cancelled and others rescheduled. The IMD recorded an "isolated very heavy rainfall" of 15 cm in Aryankavu in Kollam district.

ALERT FOR SABARIMALA PILGRIMS: The Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) advised pilgrims to the Ayyappa Temple in Sabarimala to avoid the trek between 6 pm and 7 am. The advisory highlighted dangers in using the forest route to the hill shrine and resting under trees. The pilgrims have been advised to avoid bathing in rivers. Restrictions are also in place on tourist movement in hilly and coastal regions. The KSDMA alert will remain in force till December 2.

RAHUL VISIT CANCELLED: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi's visit to Thiruvananthapuram, scheduled for Friday and Saturday, was cancelled in the wake of the cyclone alert. Gandhi was scheduled to address a gathering at the Shankhumukham Beach here, at the culmination of Padayorukkam, a state-wide rally led by Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala.

In Tamil Nadu, trees were uprooted and and people in low-lying areas were evacuated to safer places and relief camps. Personnel from the National Disaster Response Force and State Disaster Response Force from Arakkonam were rushed to Kanyakumari and other districts.

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