Thiruvananthapuram: The severe cyclonic storm, Ockhi, is gaining in strength and raging at a furious pace 60 km off the Kerala coast, a release from the Indian Meterological Department said.
Rain and wind are expected to gain in strength and batter the state in the next 48 hours.
Cyclone Ockhi casts a shadow of fear over Kerala, rain continues wreak havoc
Madhavan Rajeevan, secretary in the Ministry of Earth Sciences said in Delhi, speaking to PTI, said the archipelago in the southern part of the Arabian Sea will start experiencing heavy rainfall and strong winds from Friday.
"It will hit the islands on December 2," Rajeevan said.
Kerala's capital Thiruvananthapuram, has been severely impacted by the heavy rain and strong winds.
Kerala Fisheries minister Mercy Kutty Amma said that all the necessary arrangements have been made to ensure that the affected population is shifted to temporary shelters to ensure their safety. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan also said the state machinery was keeping a close watch on the developments and is prepared to meet any emergency.
The wind speed is expected to pick up to 120 km/ph, an IMD release said. The waves may reach a height of 4.2 meters and the cyclone is expected to spare a landfall in Kerala.
The unprecedented weather condition along the western coast has triggered heavy rain and strong winds in the southern districts, especially Thiruvananthapuram and Idukki.
4 people killed
In the meanwhile the number of fatalities has risen to four after Vizhinjam resident Alphonsa after an uprooted tree fell on her.
Earlier on Thursday Appu Nadar and his wife Sumathy, an elderly couple at Thurumbad, Kattakkada, in the capital, died after they came in contact with a snapped live wire in their courtyard.
Another person, Vishnu, was killed after a tree fell over an autorickshaw in Kollam.
One woman was injured and three vehicles damaged by uprooted trees in Vizhinjam near here. A school student was also injured in Vazhuthacaud.
Power supply has been affected in the state capital region after strong winds pulled down electric poles in many areas.
Fishing boats yet to return
Over 270 fishermen have failed to return to the Thiruvananthapuram coast, triggering widespread panic in the coastal belt. It has been reported that 28 fishing vessels from Poonthura harbor are stranded in the sea.
According to the latest reports, six boats from the Kollam coast are also reportedly missing.
The fishermen who had ventured out into the sea for their routine catch were reported to carry just enough resources to last them a night as they were supposed to return by 10 am Thursday.
Manorama news reported that a larger boat that had rescued around 15 stranded fishermen was unable to come closer to the Thiruvananthapuram shores due to the turbulance and was moving towards the Kollam coast.
Kerala minister Kadakampilly Surendran, who was speaking to the media while visiting the affected areas in Thiruvananthapuram, said that the rescue boats of the Indian navy will soon be pressed into service to look for the missing fishermen. He also said that air force rescue choppers are trying to locate the fishermen who were possibly trapped in the turbulent sea.
The minister also said that around 40 non-motorized fishing boats were stranded in the sea adding that he has already received a list of missing persons.
The Indian Navy has deployed four ships in response to a request by the district collector, Thiruvananthapuram, to locate and rescue fishing boats and a marine engineering vessel reportedly adrift off the Vizhinjam coast in the district following cyclone Ockhi.
The authorities have declared a holiday for schools in Thiruvananthapuram district after 12 in the afternoon. Idukki collector has declared a holiday for all educational institutions in Udumbanchola taluk.
Shutters of the Neyyar Dam have been opened, and the authorities warned that the Thenmala dam could also be opened soon. People living along the banks of Kallada River have also been asked to stay alert. Strong winds wreaked havoc in Idukki too.
Fishermen have been asked to exercise caution while venturing out to the turbulent sea.
Restrictions on travel
Authorities have issued night travel (6pm-6am) restrictions in the hilly regions of Thiruvananthpuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Idukki and Kottayam. Traffic was disrupted along the Kollam-Thirumangalam National Highway.
Heavy rain also troubled pilgrims at Sabarimala. Alappuzha native Vivek suffered injuries after a tree branch snapped and fell on him. Rising water level at Pamba forced authorities to evacuate pilgrims.
The turbulent weather has also disrupted train services in the state, forcing authorities to cancel some trains, while rescheduling certain others.
66304 Kollam-Kanyakumari MEMU
16724 - Ananthapuri Express will start from Kollam instead of Thiruvananthapuram
Cape Mumbai Express that was to start at 6.40 am will have a delayed start at 2.00 pm
Cape-Sbc Express from Kanyakumari to Bengaluru that was to start at 10.30 am will now start at 3 pm.