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At least 200 fishermen missing as Cyclone Ockhi nears Lakshadweep

The Indian Navy and Indian Air Force are searching for at least 200 fishermen still missing in Kerala and Tamil Nadu following cyclonic storm Ockhi as torrential rains and gusty winds continued to pound the southern districts of the two states.

The India Meteorological Department said Ockhi is now lying over the south-west Arabian Sea and slowly moving towards the Lakshadweep Islands. It is likely to have landfall in the early hours of Saturday, it added.

The weather office also said coastal areas in Kerala and Tamil Nadu are likely to experience heavy showers and winds reaching a speed of 75kmph in the next 36 hours.

Governments in both the states have asked rescue and disaster management teams to remain alert and on standby to limit the loss of lives after eight people died in both the states on Thursday.

Four ships of the Indian Navy and four aircraft of the Indian Air Force have joined rescue operations to look for the missing fishermen.

Vizinjam coastal police said at least 57 fishermen, who ventured into the sea from Thumba and Pozhiyur areas on Wednesday, are yet to return. The police have established contact with some of them but a majority is still missing.

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the state got the warning about the situation very late as families of many missing fishermen said authorities failed to give proper warning to them.
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