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First anniversary of Cyclone Ockhi observed

The first anniversary of Cyclone Ockhi, which virtually devastated the coastal district of Kanniyakumari exactly a year ago, was observed here on Thursday.

The district, which is known for its green cover, lost thousands of trees including rubber plantations, during the cyclone.

Though the official machinery mobilised men and material to restore normal life, it took more than a fortnight to achieve the goal.

Lost bread winners

The Kaani tribes in the hilly regions of the district lost everything including their thatched sheds. A good number of fishermen families lost their bread winners. Since Ockhi devoured 204 fishermen, South Asian Fishermen Fraternity (SAFF) remembered them and observed the day as ‘Day of Soldiers of Sea’. “Since they lost their precious lives even as they were toiling on the high seas, we observed this tragedy as ‘Day of Soldiers of Sea’. Few other fortunate fishermen, despite the life-threatening situation, have saved their colleagues and reached the shores. We thankfully glorify them,” said Rev. Fr. Churchill, general secretary of SAFF.

The cyclone damaged 300-odd country boats in Kanniyakumari district. Though 204 fishermen lost their lives only the bodies of 27 of them could be retrieved. While a compensation of Rs. 20 lakh each was given to the families of the deceased fishermen, the material loss is yet to be compensated.

Fr. Churchill said the government should provide the fishermen involved in deep sea fishing with satellite phone at subsidised cost besides establishing a state-of-the-art communication centre in Kanniyakumari district. A helicopter should be stationed at Kanniyakumari to launch searches for missing fishermen on high seas.

Memorial prayer services were conducted in many churches in coastal hamlets of the district.

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