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The base for joint search operations to rescue fishermen who are yet to return will now be shifted from here to Kochi, as 32 fishermen were on Monday rescued from the deep seas off the Kochi coast. Of them, 11 are from Thiruvananthapuram and the rest from Kochi and other areas.
With this, the total number of rescued fishermen crossed 530, with another 50 still remaining untraced.
The reason for the base shift is widening of the search operations into deeper seas and the shifting wind direction, which is now blowing towards Kochi area.
"We were floating in the deep sea for the past four days and three of us decided to float together. But one wave was too tough to handle and one of us lost the grip and he was not to be seen thereafter," said one rescued fishermen brought in a naval ship to Kochi.
Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who on Monday rounded off her two-day visit to the southern districts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala struck by cyclone Ockhi, said the rescue operations would continue till the last fisherman stranded in the deep seas was rescued.
Before returning to Delhi, she visited the Vizhinjam and Poovar coastal villages in the capital city suburbs and through her pleasing manners was able to pacify the huge crowds gathered there to air their grievances. She assured that all necessary action would be taken to ensure that the issues of fishermen were addressed quickly.
Speaking to the media before her return, she said: "I informed them that the search operations even with help of warships are going on and will continue till the last of the missing fishermen is brought back.
"I will not lose hopes as the joint search operations have rescued fishermen who had ventured into the seas 15 days back," said the union minister.
She also assured that henceforth, all search operations by the joint rescue team would include local fishermen, who are well versed with the local waters.
On Sunday, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan was heckled by angry local populace at Vizhinjam for not coming earlier to inquire about them after tragedy struck on November 30, state Tourism Minister K. Surendran also had to face the ire of the fisher folk when he came calling them on Monday.
Vijayan later held a video conference with the district collectors and directed them to ensure that under no circumstances the compensation disbursement was delayed, and to treat all affected people with utmost care.
At the medical college hospital here, where 49 rescued fishermen are currently under medical observation, it was a heart-wrenching sight as many people who are yet to hear from their near and dear ones came to have a look at the 12 dead bodies kept in the mortuary.
The hospital authorities on Monday started the process to get the DNA examination of the bodies done, as most of these are now difficult to be identified with naked eyes.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)