As one nears the St Thomas church on the shore, loud wails can be heard. Almost everyone from the Poonthura village in Thiruvananthapuram is here, many anxiously waiting for news. Crowds of women are sitting and standing, each one of them crying loudly.
One hundred and three fishermen from this village had ventured out into the sea on Wednesday morning. With inadequate warnings about Cyclone Ockhi, they could not return back on time. By Friday evening, three fishermen have come back home, while 46 others have been rescued.
By 3 pm, a tent is erected near the church and all the women shift there.
The villagers are desperately waiting for word on who has been rescued and who is still missing.
Jamilit and Sunitha
Jamilit’s son Christdoss and husband Paniadima have not come back. A woman struck by tragedy twice in the last five years, she is praying fervently for their return. One of her sons died of an illness five years ago, while another son went missing at sea just a month ago.
“I have no one. Please return them,” she prays to the sea.
Christdoss’s wife Sunitha and their three children too are waiting in the tent.
19-year-old Vinesh is also missing. His grandmother Susanna (62) with whom he had been living is wailing loudly, praying to the statue of little Jesus just outside the church.
“Give me my Ambili (Vinesh’s petname) back,” she wails. Vinesh’s brothers have gone to Kochi and Kollam to find if the choppy waters have taken him there.
While the people of Poonthura wait for their men to come back home, the coast guard, navy and air force have launched a thorough search operation, and have so far rescued 218 fishermen from various villages on the coast. Several have been rescued on Japanese boats, on coast guard and navy vessels.
Many of those rescued have been admitted at the Primary Health Centre in Vizhinjam, General Hospital and Thiruvananthapuram Medical College.