Amidst controversies over government inaction for full two days after the weather bureau warned of a cyclonic storm brewing in the Indian Ocean, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Sunday warned of a fresh cyclonic storm brewing in the Bay of Bengal.
A fresh spell of rainfall is expected to lash Tamil Nadu as the well-marked low pressure area over the south Andaman Sea is likely to turn into a depression in the next 24 hours and a deep depression in the subsequent 48 hours, the Met office said on Sunday.
Hovering over the north Sumatra coast and the adjoining south Andaman Sea, the low pressure area now lies over southeast Bay of Bengal and south Andaman Sea, it said.
Even as rescue operations continue in full strength after the storm, 'Ockhi' wreaked havoc in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep, where has weakened in those states, where its intensity is further expected to reduce from very severe to severe on Monday. The cyclone is on a north-western cause, drifting towards coastlines of Gujarat and Maharashtra but at a slower pace.
"As the intensity of the cyclone is likely to reduce, there are less chances of flooding-like situation in Gujarat. Light to moderate showers are expected along coastlines of the state. A warning has been issued for fishermen in the state," said an official at IMD, Ahmedabad.
Though Ockhi moved away from Lakshadweep to Gujarat, big waves and squally winds made their presence felt along Kerala's coast.
In all, Indian Navy and Coast Guard rescued 690 fishermen till Sunday. However, 96 fishermen are still missing and a search is on to locate them. Most of them are from Thiruvananthapuram.
Meanwhile 55 fishermen in the capital mounted a rescue operation after they were not allowed to be part of the official rescue team.
Till date, the havoc wreaked by the cyclone claimed 25 lives in Kerala, including 12 on Sunday. But, official figures put the toll at 19, including the six deaths on Sunday while indicating that more bodies were traced in Vizhinjam and Kollam.
The body of fisherman PV Sunilkumar (35), who went missing on Friday, was recovered by a rescue team late in the evening in Kannur.
Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday said a total of 357 fishermen, including 71 from Tamil Nadu, stranded in sea due to Cyclone Ockhi, were rescued.
In addition to the fishermen from Tamil Nadu, 248 from Kerala and 38 from Lakshadweep Islands, were rescued by Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard personnel, she said in a tweet.
"An update on the search and rescue efforts being done by the Indian Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force to save the lives of fishermen affected by #CycloneOckhi : 357 fishermen have been saved as of 10 am today," Sitharaman said in her official Twitter handle.
Despite the fact-sheet put out by Sitharaman of the Coast Guard (CG) deploying two ships, an equal number of fixed wing aircraft and one helicopter for search and rescue on Tamil Nadu coast, seven ships in Kerala and one in Lakshadweep islands, the fact remains that the authorities have miserably failed in alerting fishermen in time and reaching out to those in the sea needing immediate help.
Lakshadweep islands has suffered a loss of over Rs500 crore, Lakshadweep MP Mohammad Faizal said on Sunday, seeking centre's assistance to restore normal life in the islands isolated by the storm.
Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said 28 more boats, carrying 321 fishermen, which were caught in rough seas due to Cyclone Ockhi, have safely reached Maharashtra's Ratnagiri coast on Sunday.
Of these, 23 are from Tamil Nadu, three from Kerala and two from Karnataka, he said.
"Due to #CycloneOckhi 28 more boats with 321 fishermen landed at Ratnagiri today," Fadnavis tweeted.
The boats are now docked at Mirya Bunder, Ratnagiri. All fishermen are safe and officials are looking after them with utmost care, the chief minister said.
Fadnavis had on Saturday tweeted that in all, 68 fishing boats, out of which 66 were from Kerala and two from Tamil Nadu, had reached Sindhudurg coast with 952 fishermen on- board.
"I have given orders to the Maharashtra Maritime Board and the district collector, to make all arrangements for the stranded fishermen," he had said.
"Local authorities are already with them and taking care of all arrangements to make everyone feel at home," the chief minister had said.
Thanking Fadnavis for the assistance, Sitharaman had tweeted, "Thanks Hon.CM @Dev_Fadnavis for understanding the sense of urgency in this matter of fishermen reaching Devgad minor port, Maharashtra."