India searches for dozens of missing fishermen after Cyclone Ockhi

By Danielle Haynes Follow @DanielleHaynes1 Contact the Author   |  Dec. 4, 2017 at 3:51 PM
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Dec. 4 (UPI) -- Cyclone Ockhi made landfall in southern India over the weekend, killing at least two dozen people and leaving about 100 fishermen missing as it gears up for another landfall later in the week.

The storm began lashing the Lakshadweep Islands on Thursday and continued into the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu over the weekend.

The Kerala state government said the death toll was 25 as of Monday. The Indian navy rescued 20 of the missing fishermen, the Press Trust of India reported, but more are missing.

Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who visited Kerala state Monday, said the search operation would go on.

"There will not be any dilution of operations," she said. "We want to make sure that each and every fisherman who had gone from Kerala comes back safely."

She said that some fishermen who had set out 15 days ago before the cyclone warning had been spotted and given food and water.

"So I will not lose hope even for a minute. If boats that had gone 15 days ago had come back with fishermen alive, we will make every attempt to bring everybody back," Sitharaman said.

"There was no forewarning," Sekhar Lukose Kuriakose, of the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority, told The New York Times. "There was no scientific means of establishing that this was going to become a cyclone."

Cyclone Ockhi was forecast to strike the coast in Gujarat state by Tuesday evening.

Mohammed Faizal, a member of Parliament representing Lakshadweep, expected damage on the islands to be more than $77 million.

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