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445 fishermen still missing due to cyclone Ockhi

As many as 445 fishermen from both Tamil Nadu and Kerala who were out in the Indian Ocean region when cyclone Ockhi struck nearly 35 days ago, are still missing on Official account according to information provided to the Parliament by Minister of State for Science and Technology Y S Chowdhry last week.

In his written reply to a question on the issue in the Lok Sabha, the Minister listed the damage caused by the cyclone which struck the landís end on November 29th night.  Ninety fishermen from both Tami Nadu and Kerala perished in the storm. Four hundred fishing boats mostly from Tami Nadu were totally damaged in the storm. Crops in twelve thousand hectares were destroyed.

The Minister said the cyclone OCKHI had rapid intensification during its genesis stage. The system emerged into the Comorin Area during night of November 29th and intensified into Deep Depression in the early hrs of 30th and into Cyclonic Storm in the forenoon.

 Regular warnings were issued for fishermen along and off Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Lakshdweep Islands, Goa, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat, Dadra Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu coasts.

Three hourly tropical Cyclone Advisories were issued to central & state level disaster managers, media,  general public from 29th November forenoon onwards the minister said referring to the wide spread criticism by the fishermen of the area that they were not forewarned of the impending cyclone. Kerala chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had blamed the Met authorities for not providing the information about the cyclone in time.

Refuting the charges the Union minister said the first information regarding formation of depression over Bay Of Bengal (BOB) during next 48-72 hours (i.e. 30th onwards) was issued on 28th November in the Tropical Weather Outlook issued at 1200 hrs IST and depression formed over southeast BOB in the morning of 28th.

In its first bulletin based on 0830 IST of 29th November 2017, Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre New Delhi indicated the west-north westward movement of system and its emergence into Comorin area by 30th. It was also mentioned that the system would intensify further.

Cyclone Warning for Lakshadweep, south Kerala and south Tamil Nadu was given in the bulletin issued at 1155 hrs IST of 30th Nov.

         First warning of storm surge of height about 1.0 m above astronomical tides likely to inundate low lying areas of Lakshadweep Islands and 0.5 m above astronomical tides likely to inundate low lying areas of south Kerala, south Karnataka coasts was issued on  30th.evening

The common advisory bulletin was issued by IMD to all state Governments (Tamil Nadu, Kerala and UT of Lakshadweep) for taking appropriate precautionary actions based on the likely adverse conditions both over the land and adjoining Sea areas as mentioned in all the bulletins of IMD commencing from Bulletin No. 1 issued in the forenoon of 29th Nov. 2017. Same contents of the bulletin were also resent by NDMA through WhatsApp group to relevant state Govt. authorities periodically starting from 29th Nov.

The bulletins were sent to disaster management authorities through e-mail and fax. Also SMSs were sent at least once a day. In addition, IMD officers at Meteorological Centre, Thiruvananthapuram and Chennai regularly interacted with the state Govt officials since 29th afternoon through phone and personal meetings. All above communications are directed jointly by IMD and NDMA to Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep governments to consider taking all necessary response actions at their respective ends.

IMD has one of the best forecasting mechanisms for predicting tropical cyclones using high resolution advanced mathematical models and a suite of quality observations from Satellites and Radars.  IMD also has rich experience of more than 100 years in tropical cyclone prediction and has many trained and experienced scientists specialized in forecasting.  In the recent past, IMD accurately predicted cyclones like Phailin, HudHud and Vardah and helped to save thousands of lives. The improvement in the monitoring and forecasting of such tropical cyclones is a continuous process.

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