Days after Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that 261 fishermen were missing from the cyclone-hit areas in Kerala, the state government has released data saying that a total of 141 fishermen remain missing from the state.
On Wednesday, the government released the latest official figures on the people missing in cyclone Ockhi, which hit the southern districts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala on November 30.
A further 75 fishermen from other states who ventured into the sea from the Kerala coast also remain untraced. A total of 79 fishermen from Kerala have been declared dead, as per the figures.
There are 33 unclaimed bodies in various mortuaries of Kerala, with the Kozhikode Medical College having the most at 13. Three bodies were handed over on Wednesday to the next of kin after DNA tests. As per the previous figures released by the government, the number of missing was 143.
On Monday, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan presented cheques of Rs 2.2 million each to the families of 25 of the dead fishermen. The amount comprised Rs 20 lakh announced by the Kerala government and Rs 2 lakh from the Prime Minister's Relief Fund. The Chief Minister at the function said that after police complete all the necessary paperwork in three months, the families of the missing fishermen would also be given Rs 2.2 million each.
The state government has asked the Centre for immediate assistance of Rs 442 crore. While Rs 133 crore has already been sanctioned, the Centre has assured that the rest of the amount would be handed over to the state soon.
On December 28, Nirmala Sitharaman had informed the Parliament that a total of 661 fishermen remain missing in the aftermath of Ockhi. As per the figures available with the Union Government, the minister said that 261 continue to remain missing from Kerala while 400 fishermen were missing from Tamil Nadu.
The minister also said that in the rescue operations carried out by the Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard, 821 fishermen were rescued and among them, 362 were from Kerala.
(With IANS inputs)