KANYAKUMARI/THIRUVANATHAPURAM: Torrential rains pounded southern districts of Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Kerala crippling life and claiming eight lives - four each in the two states - as a deep depression in the Bay of Bengal intensified into cyclonic storm 'Ockhi' on Thursday.
Both the state governments put the official machinery on high alert as the cyclone, lying 60 kms south of Kanyakumari, was forecast to dump more rains in south Tamil Nadu and Kerala in the next 24 hours.
The storm was expected to move toward the Lakshadweep archipelago and hit the islands on December 2.
A bulletin issued by the India Meteorological Department said wind speed reaching 65-75 kmph gusting to 85 kmph was very likely along and off South Kerala during next 48 hours and along and off south Tamil Nadu during next 24 hours.
Fishermen in coastal regions in southern parts of the two states were advised not to venture into sea for the next 24 hours, it said.
Madhavan Rajeevan, Secretary in the Earth Sciences ministry, said in New Delhi that Lakshadweep in the southern part of the Arabian Sea will start experiencing heavy rainfall and strong winds from tomorrow. "It will hit the islands on December 2," Rajeevan said.
Tamil Nadu government deployed state and national disaster response force teams in Kanyakumari district, which bore the brunt of the rain fury.
It asked officials to shelter people living in low lying areas in multi-purpose evacuation centres.
Chief Minister K Palaniswami, who reviewed the situation, said in Chennai that state Ministers and senior IAS officials have been assigned to affected districts to monitor relief work.