Cyclone Ockhi claims eight lives in southern districts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala

At least eight people have died and 90 fishermen are missing when the torrential rains lashed the southern districts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala- as the depression in the Bay of Bengal turned into cyclonic storm “Ochki” on Thursday.

According to the meteorologists, the cyclonic storm Ochki is heading towards Lakshwadeep Islands and is likely to grow into a severe storm. Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam were the worst affected districts where several trees were uprooted.

According to Skymet, Lakshadweep is expected to get heavy rainfalls and the intensity of rain will reduce over Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Various flights have been canceled and the schools in Chennai, Kanyakumari, Tuticorin, Kancheepuram, Villupuram, Madhurai, Theni, Thanjayur and Thiruvarur  have been closed

The Home minister, Rajnath Singh has spoken to Director General, National Disaster Response Force and reviewed the situation in the affected areas.

In Kerela, the state government has put the official machinery on a high alert and has ordered the evacuation of people living within 100 meters of the coast area. The Indian Navy has deployed four ships and two aircrafts for search and rescue operations and also has set up a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operations in southern Kerala.

Sources- The Hindu, Times of India

Abducted Kerala priest will safely return, assures Sushma Swaraj

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday assured safe return of Kerala priest Tom Unzhunnalil to India. The Kerala-based Catholic priest who is fondly known as Father Tommy George was abducted by the Islamic State in Yemen earlier this year. She promised that the government will spare no action to release him from the clutches of the deadly terror group and bring him back safely.

A video surfaced on several social media platform on Monday that featured the abducted priest appealing to Pope Francis and Central Government to help him get free. He also alleged that he is bogged down by inactivity on government’s part. He also alleged that not much attention is being paid to his case because he is Indian and of less value than his European counterparts. However, the veracity of the video is not yet ascertained.

“I have seen the video from Father Tom. He is an Indian citizen and the life of every Indian is most precious for us,” Swaraj tweeted. “We got Father Alex Prem Kumar and Judith D’Souza released from Afghanistan. The government will spare no effort to ensure his safe return from the captivity”, she added.

The center, on the other hand, has informed that the government is putting in a lot of efforts. According to MEA spokesperson Vikas Swaroop, they are in constant touch with Yemeni local authorities. Also, the current disharmonious environment in Yemen is only making the matters worse.

Unzhunnalil was abducted on March 4 this year during a raid in a nursing home in Yemen. Around 16 people were killed in this incident.


SOURCE: Scroll.inIndian Express

IMAGE SOURCE: Screenshot from the video


Gas leak at KMML factory in Kerela; 70 students hospitalized

Photo Courtesy –

Kollam: Around 70 students of Government HSS, Sankaramangalam were hospitalized following an alleged gas leak at the Kerala Minerals and Metals Ltd. Plant in Chavra on Thursday morning.

Around 9 am several students of the school began citing dizziness and nausea and started vomiting profusely. The school authorities immediately admitted the students to Karunagappally Taluk Hospital nearby.

When asked about the matter, KMML managing director, P Michael Vetha Siromony, said, “The gas formed while burning petroleum coke, spread in ‘limited quantity’ while preparations were being done to start the chlorinator.”

The gas has not yet been identified. However, speculations state that large amounts of Hydrogen Chloride were released. The cause of the leak is unidentifiable and the possibility of deliberate sabotage is being looked into.

While several of the students have been discharged; most are still undergoing treatment at the hospital.

Several similar incidents have occurred at the KMML in the past, once in April 2007 and again in November 2011.

The situation was immediately brought under control.

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