Thiruvananthapuram: Search operations continued for the ninth consecutive day on Friday even as 180 fishermen were found off Lakshadweep in 17 boats. They were rescued by Navy's ship INS Kalpeni. Five fishermen form Gujarat stranded in Lakshadweep were also rescued and brought to Kochi. The government told an all party meeting that 38 persons had died and 96 fishermen were missing as on Saturday. However, other sources said 397 fishermen were missing of which 301 were those who went in big boats and 96 in small boats.
The details are reportedly based on the information collected from respective police stations and coastal villages by the officials connected with revenue department. All 96 persons who went in small boats belonged to Thiruvananthapuram district. Meanwhile, the Latin Archdioceses came out with a different figure of the missing persons. According to the Church the number of missing fishermen stood at 259 which includes 103 who went in small boats and 156 in big boats.
At the all party meeting the chief minister reiterated that the state government had received cyclone warning only at 12 noon on November 30. The warning received earlier had not pointed to formation of cyclone threat. The chief minister said after getting the cyclone warning the government didn’t waste even a minute to start massive search and rescue operations in coastal areas. The departments were asked to coordinate the activities and district administrations were given instructions through video conferencing to take steps on war footing.
However, opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala and BJP MLA O Rajagopal countered the chief minister’s claims. Ramesh Chennithala said the chief minister was making wrong claims to hide his government’s failures. The opposition leader condemned the statement made by chief minister at the all party meting accusing a section of media of trying to create a riot like situation. Pinarayi had also alleged that opposition tried to add fuel to fire by making provocative statements.
Chennithala announced that he would contribute one month’s salary and his staff’s one day salary for the Ockhi relief fund. O. Rajagopal, MLA, said the government’s argument that the Centre had not given timely warning regarding Ockhi fell flat at the all party meeting. It was because of the the chief minister’s false pride that the government was not acknowledging the timely warning given by the Centre, he said. Mr Rajagopal said the compensation announced by the government was less. He urged the government to continue search operations and provide adequate compensation to the affected families.