Four people were killed, at least 80 fishermen and 50 boats have gone missing as heavy rains and strong winds lashed southern part of the state after cyclonic storm Ockhi hit the Kerala coast, officials said. The worst-affected districts were Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam where several trees were uprooted. At Vizhinjam, a woman was crushed under a tree, while in Kollam, an auto driver died after a tree fell on his auto. In the suburban town at Kattakada near here, a couple was electrocuted when they came in contact with a live wire that snapped and fell on the road after a tree hit an electric pole. The state government declared a holiday for educational institutions for the day. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan held an emergency meeting of top officials to take stock of the situation and has asked police and revenue officials to be on high alert. "We have asked for help from the Navy and the Coast Guard as a batch of fishermen from here has not returned," Vijayan told the media after the meeting.
The Navy has deployed ships for search and rescue operations.The metrological office said that heavy rains and winds in the southern districts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu were due to a depression formed over southwest Bay of Bengal near the Sri Lanka coast and it had moved westwards and intensified into a deep depression in the early hours of Thursday. The Met has forecast heavy rains for Friday in southern Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep and also parts of Nicobar Islands. The report said gale wind with speeds reaching 65-75 kmph and gusting to 85 kmph are likely along and off south Kerala over the next 48 hours and off south Tamil Nadu. Squally winds with speed reaching 55 to 65 kmph, and gusting to 75 kmph, are also very likely along and around Lakshadweep Islands. The Met office advised fishermen not to venture into the sea along and off south Tamil Nadu and south Kerala coasts and Lakshadweep Islands. In a related development, the two-day visit of Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, who was to address a party meeting on the seashore near the airport here on Friday, has been postponed on account of the heavy rains.