Conflicting Figures On Missing Fishermen Adds To Agony Of Families

The Cyclone Ockhi death toll stands at 38 in Kerala, and most people who have died are fishermen. However, according to the locals, conflicting figures about the missing people has added to their anxiety.

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Cyclone Ockhi hit Kerala on November 29. The death toll stands at 38

Thiruvananthapuram:  Twenty-five-year-old Shimmi Freddy from Vizhinjam in Kerala is worried and heart-broken. She has been waiting desperately to get an update about her husband, a fisherman, since the last ten days after Cyclone Ockhi hit the Kerala coast on November 29. 

"My husband went to the coast early morning at 3 am on November 30. It has been ten days now. He hasn't returned. Has something happened to him? Will he return? I know nothing. I only know that my two daughters and I are waiting for him," she says. 

Along with her daughters, Shimmi has taken refuge in a local church like many other people waiting to hear an update about the sole breadwinners in their families. Several local churches across the coastal districts have turned into refuge centres for grief-struck families. 

The Cyclone Ockhi death toll stands at 38 in Kerala, and most people who have died are fishermen. However, according to the locals, conflicting figures about the missing people has added to their agony.  According to the government authorities, 96 small scale fishermen  and around 200 fishermen in larger boats have gone missing. However, some locals says, local churches have given different figures.

While the rescue operations by Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard continue, 73-year-old Valsamma, also from Vizhinjam, hasn't stopped praying since last four days. Her husband, a fisherman, who is the sole breadwinner for family of seven, went missing nine days ago. "Most people who accompanied him to the coast returned but he did not," she says. 

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"We can't let the government evade the responsibility of having failed to take the necessary preventive measures. Warnings were issued in Tamil Nadu and Lakshwadeep, where no causalities have been reported. And here, we have already lost 38 lives. Hundreds are still missing and may never come back," Shashi Tharoor, Congress lawmaker from Thiruvananthapuram, said after an all-party meeting was called on Friday by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who has drawn lot of anger from the local fishermen families.

"We have done all that needs to be done. We won't allow the grievances to be used by leaders to gain political mileage. We are in communication with ISRO, and officials concerned have assured us help for the future also, with a special space link for us using satellite communication through transponders. This is being worked out with them," fisheries minister J Mercykutty Amma said.
 

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