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Cyclone Ockhi: 97 Fishermen Missing, Sitharaman Assures Rescue Ops Won't Stop Still Last Man is Saved

Naval ships, helicopters, Coast Guard vessels and Air Force planes are engaged in the rescue and relief operations to track down missing Kerala fishermen.

Neethu Reghukumar | CNN-News18

Updated:December 4, 2017, 4:03 PM IST
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Cyclone Ockhi: 97 Fishermen Missing, Sitharaman Assures Rescue Ops Won't Stop Still Last Man is Saved
A fisherman who was stranded in the Arabian Sea is escorted down from an Indian Navy helicopter after being rescued in Thiruvananthapuram. (AP Photo)
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Thiruvananthapuram: Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday sought to assure the fishermen community that rescue operations in the wake of Cyclone Ockhi would not stop till the “last person is rescued”.

Naval ships, helicopters, Coast Guard vessels and Air Force planes are engaged in the rescue and relief operations to track down missing Kerala fishermen.

"Search and rescue operations will continue...There will not be any dilution of operations. We want to make sure that each and every fishermen who had gone from Kerala comes back safe,” she said.

According to authorities, 97 fishermen who ventured out into the sea last week are still missing. So far , 393 fishermen from Kerala have been rescued.

Fishing communities in Vizhinjam and Poonthura have been protesting alleged inaction in bringing back fishermen missing from the hamlets for five days now. The anger was palpable during Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s visit to Vizhinjam on Sunday night. Police had to remove protesters from the CM’s path.

The protesters alleged that they were not given proper warning and that the rescue operations were proceeding on slow pace. They said some fishermen from the hamlet should be taken to the seas in Navy and Coast Guard vessels since they know the waters better.

On Monday, after listening to their grievances, Nirmala Sitharaman, speaking in Tamil, assured them that rescue operations could continue.

“The operations had started on November 30. Search operations are more intense that those undertaken during the 2004 tsunami. I will meet the agriculture minister with your problems. I assure you that your problems will be solved."

The fishermen complained to the Union minister that Coast Guard was not able to find the fishermen, something they were able to achieve in their small boats.

"This is not the time for blame game. Let us all try and bring our fishermen back home. That should be the focus right now. Had the Coast Guard spotted the fishermen, they would not have left them behind,” Sitharaman replied.
| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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