Ockhi: Latin Church alleges apathy in providing timely cyclone warning

Ockhi: Latin Church alleges apathy in providing timely cyclone warning

The death toll in Cyclone Ockhi in Kerala rose to 42 Sunday with the recovery of two more bodies.

He added that the Tamil Nadu Government was taking all steps to help the fishermen community there.

The boats that returned on Sunday were the ones that reached the Lakshadweep coast when the cyclone intensified.

The meeting made a decision to set up an "Ockhi Rehabilitation Relief fund" to help cyclone victims and urged government employees, institutions and organisations to contribute towards the fund.

Scores of them who had ventured into the sea for fishing prior to the cyclone are yet to return, according to their families and relatives. In the past 11 days, the Navy has searched four lakh square miles as part of their search and rescue operations.

Following inputs from fishermen, an aerial search was carried out over Maldives after obtaining clearance through diplomatic channels, but no fishermen were found there. The Navy said 23 ships and eight aircraft are engaged in the rescue operations, which continued for the ninth day Saturday. The ship also stumbled on two capsized fishing vessels, "Annei 'and 'AVM EP Turai" and searches revealed they had no survivors on board.

With almost 200 fishermen still reported missing, the Latin Catholic Church has threatened to take a protest rally to the state secretariat.

A sombre atmosphere prevailed in the coastal villages of Poonthura, Vizhinjam, Pozhiyur and Adimalathura near here as men, women and children gathered at the local churches to offer special prayers since 6am. Besides, there are another 4,148 families who have land but no house.

The fishermen are demanding a coordinated search operation to trace missing fishermen and a visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the Ockhi-hit areas.

He also sought formation of a separate fishing ministry. Kerala and Tamil Nadu have demanded the Centre to declare the tragedy a national disaster.

The community members said they would take out a march to Raj Bhawan tomorrow to press for their demands.