Cyclone Ockhi: Death toll 19 in TN and Kerala

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Meanwhile, Coast Guard Mangaluru rescued 20 fishermen from four fishing boats that could not enter the Old Port in Mangaluru due to high tide on Friday night.

Sitharaman further said at least 71 fishermen have been rescued from Tamil Nadu till now.

Panneerselvam inspected the Cyclone Ockhi-hit Kanniyakumari district on Sunday and claimed that the destruction was minimal, thanks to adequate precautionary measures taken by the State government.

The cyclone, which struck southern Tamil Nadu and Kerala on November 30, has ravaged a large part of coastal areas.

The intensity of the cyclone is likely to weaken on Monday and subsequently on Tuesday. The navy, air force and coast guard personnel continued their search and rescue operations for missing fishermen for the second day on Saturday.

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Speaking to a television channel, a fisherman in Kanyakumari who came back to the shore said: "Only God saved my life".

Separately, three senior Ministers told a press conference here that the State government had constituted committees in 44 villages inhabited by fisherfolk to conduct a survey about the fishermen who had ventured into the sea before the onset of Ockhi in Kanniyakumari district.

"Eighteen fishing boats and 198 fishermen from Tamilnadu have taken safe shelter in Lakshadweep and Mincioy Group of Islands (western coast)", an official release said.

The Home Minister also called up Lakshadweep Administrator Farooq Khan to enquire about the situation in the islands. "The Central Government have deployed Coast Guard - Ships (10), Aircraft (3), Helicopters (1); Navy - Ships (10), Aircraft (2), Helicopters (2); Airforce - Aircraft (1), Helicopters (3) for rescue and relief", a government statement said. Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said 400 fishermen stranded in the sea were rescued so far by the defence teams while the search and rescue for the rest of the missing fishermen continues in earnest.

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