STORY: The cyclonic storm hovering over India’s southern tip will intensify over the next 24 hours as it heads towards an archipelago, about 300 kilometres off country’s southwestern coast, weather scientists said on Friday (December 01).
Cyclone Ockhi, which began as a depression in the Bay of Bengal, is gradually moving towards Lakshwadeep Islands and is expected to make landfall on Saturday (December 02) morning. It is forecast to bring gales of up to 70-75 kmph (43-46 mph) and heavy rains.
Heavy rains and strong winds have wreaked havoc across Kerala and Tamil Nadu, uprooting trees and electric poles, damaging houses and inundating low-lying areas. Schools were closed across Tamil Nadu state’s capital Chennai.
Reportedly, eight people have been killed in the coastal states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu and nearly 100 fishermen are missing. Search and rescue operations are being carried out by Indian naval forces and two Indian Coast Guard (ICG) ships have been deployed at the coasts in Kerala’s Kochi and Tamil Nadu’s Tuticorin cities. Teams of India’s National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have also been rushed to affected areas.
India is one of the most disaster-prone nations in the world and many of its 1.32 billion people live in areas vulnerable to hazards such as floods, cyclones and droughts. Its cyclone season generally lasts from April to December with severe storms often causing dozens of deaths, evacuations of tens of thousands of people from low-lying villages and widespread crop and property damage.