Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday visited the cyclone-hit state of Kerala and assured it of help from the Centre, stating that rescue operations would continue till every missing fisherman was brought back safely.
PTI reported that a total of 20 fishermen from the state were rescued by the Indian Navy on Monday while the death toll of Cyclone 'Ochki' rose to 25, according to the state government.
"Search and rescue operations will continue. There will not be any dilution of operations. We want to make sure that each and every fisherman who had gone from Kerala comes back safely. They (fishing community) are in deep distress...I can see it. So, I will not lose hope even for a minute. If boats that had gone 15 days ago had come back with fishermen alive, we will make every attempt to bring everybody back," PTI quoted Sitharaman as saying.
After travelling through some of the affected areas, Sitharaman also met with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday spoke to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami and Pinarayi Vijayan over the phone to take stock of the situation.
The Home Minister also called up Lakshadweep Administrator Farooq Khan to enquire about the situation in the islands.
The cyclone, which struck southern Tamil Nadu and Kerala on November 30, has ravaged a large part of coastal areas.
The Tamil Nadu government on Monday said a total of 2,604 fishermen out of the 2,864 caught in the cyclone have been rescued and search for the remaining 260 is on while the Kerala government said a total of 530 fishermen have been rescued and 50 still untraced.
A total of 11 Indian Coast Guard ships, two aircraft and two helicopters are presently carrying out search and rescue operations off the coasts of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Lakshadweep and Minicoy.
A meteorological department bulletin on Sunday said Cyclone Ockhi had moved further north-north-westwards at a speed of 12kmph and lay centred at about 440 km west-north-west of Amindivi (Lakshadweep), 870 km south-south-west of Mumbai and 1,070 km south-south-west of Surat.