Ahmedabad/New Delhi/Thiruvananthapuram: As many as 40 boats carrying fishermen stranded in the Arabian sea following the outbreak of the Cyclone Ockhi reached the coast off Veraval in Gujarat on Monday.
Coastal guards said 516 fishermen in the boats were safe, Manorama News reported. There were fishermen from Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam districts in Kerala and Tamil Nadu in the boats.
The cyclone is expected to make landfall on the coast of Maharashtra within the next 48 hours.
Alert has been issued for fishermen in Maharashtra and Gujarat. Met office has said that the condition of the sea along north Maharashtra and South Gujarat coasts will be very rough on the Monday and Tuesday.
The government said on Monday that 1,540 people, including fishermen, affected by Cyclone Ockhi in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Lakshadweep, were rescued by various agencies.
A total of 243 fishermen in Tamil Nadu, 250 fishermen in Kerala and 1,047 people in Lakshadweep have been rescued so far, an official statement said here Monday night after a meeting of the National Crisis Management Committee, headed by cabinet secretary P K Sinha.
Relief material is also being provided to inmates in relief camps set up by the government agencies and state governments of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Lakshadweep administration, which were also taking prompt action in dealing with the situation, it said.
The central government has deployed 10 Coast Guard ships, 6 aircraft, 4 helicopters, 10 Navy ships for rescue and relief, it said.
Navy continues search
Indian Navy on Monday continued search and rescue (SAR) operations in full swing for the fifth day over Southeast Arabian Sea and Lakshadweep and Minicoy islands in the aftermath of very severe cyclonic storm Ockhi.
The Navy said the whole of Lakshadweep and Minicoy islands are under the cover of its ships and aircraft with rescue and relief operations on in full swing.
The Indian Navy is determined to bring back normalcy to Lakshadweep and Minicoy islands most expeditiously, a defense release said.
All other ships at the disposal of Indian Navy would continue the search and rescue operations and provide relief till normalcy is restored.
Eight naval ships, including frontline ships from Western Naval Command INS Chennai, Kolkata and Trikand, were deployed for rendering assistance to the affected islands, the release said.
In addition, all aircraft at the disposal of the Southern Naval Command, including long range maritime reconnaissance aircraft P8I of Eastern Naval Command, were deployed throughout the day, it said.
Search base to shift to Kochi
Meanwhile, In Kerala the base for joint search operations to rescue fishermen who are yet to return will now be shifted from Thiruvananthapuram to Kochi, as 32 fishermen were on Monday rescued from the deep seas off the Kochi coast. Of them, 11 are from Thiruvananthapuram and the rest from Kochi and other areas.
The reason for the base shift is widening of the search operations into deeper seas and the shifting wind direction, which is now blowing towards Kochi area.
"We were floating in the deep sea for the past four days and three of us decided to float together. But one wave was too tough to handle and one of us lost the grip and he was not to be seen thereafter," said one rescued fishermen brought in a naval ship to Kochi.
Union defense minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who on Monday rounded off her two-day visit to the southern districts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala struck by cyclone Ockhi, said the rescue operations would continue till the last fisherman stranded in the deep seas was rescued.