Cyclone
Schools to be shut on Friday, fishermen and Sabarimala pilgrims warned.

Heavy rains have been lashing southern districts of Kerala since Wednesday night throwing normal life out of gear and causing huge traffic jams in capital city Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam.

An autoriockshaw driver identified as Vishnu, a native of Kulathupuzha in the outskirts of Kollam, was killed after a huge tree fell on the autorickshaw.

The Kerala Disaster Management Cell has been given stern instructions to be equipped to face any kind of emergency.

In Kollam, tehsiladars have issued direction to keep all disaster rehabilitation centres ready in case it becomes necessary to evacuate people living in coastal areas. The cyclone 'Ockhi' formed in the Bay of Bengal near Kanyakumari, a district in Tamil Nadu bordering Kerala has been causing heavy showers in the districts, according to the Meteorological Department.

Fifteen cm rainfall was recorded at Aryankav in Kollam till 8.30 am on Thursday and 3 cm each at Neyyatinkara and Nedumnagad in Thiruvananthapuram.

A fisherman has gone missing from Vettucaud, a coastal area in Thiruvananthapuram. Seven fishing boats have gone missing from Adimalathura in the district. Holiday has been declared for educational institutions in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday afternoon. In Kollam, all educational institutions will remain shut on Friday.

Shutters of Peppara dam in Thiruvanathapuram are likely to be opened, while that of Neyyar dam have already been raised. Mild landslides have been reported from Achankovil in Kollam and Amburi in Thiruvananthapuram.

Trees and flex boards have fallen down in various parts of both districts causing traffic jam for hours. Police and fire force officials have been finding it hard to reach places from where damage has been reported.

Authorities have asked fishermen not to venture into the sea. Wind is blowing at a speed of 26 kilo meter per hour.

“Heavy rain fall will continue till December 3. Though rain fall has been reported from Alappuzha and Idukki districts, the recorded rainfall is less and hasn’t affected normal life,” IMD department officials told TNM.

Sabarimala pilgrims have also been asked to avoid travel between 6 pm and 7 am and to not use forest path to reach the shrine. The pilgrims have been asked not to take rest beneath trees or near streams, to avoid shower in rivers and streams on the way.