Depression not expected to hit Kerala directly: CM

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The sea during this time will be "rough to very rough" around the area as well as in Lakshadweep.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said Tuesday that at present it has not been predicted that the depression formed south of Kanyakumari and south west of Sri Lanka would directly affect the State. The ruling LDF government, criticised for its alleged late response to the cyclone, has already taken emergency measures, sending SOS messages to the coast to prevent fishermen from going out to sea.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD), in an evening bulletin, said the depression adjoining the equatorial Indian Ocean had moved north-northwestward and lay centred about 360 km southeast of Minicoy, 280 km south-southwest of Thiruvananthapuram and 320 km east-northeast of Male. Coast Guard ships are on standby while the government has set up two control rooms in Alappuzha and Thiruvananthapuram.

Meanwhile, the state's chief secretary Paul Antony met senior officers of various departments to review preparations. While it is not expected to move further north, the depression is likely to cause very heavy rainfall in southern districts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

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The Kerala government sounded an alert along its coast in view of a well marked low pressure over the Indian Ocean, asking officials to ensure return of fishermen engaged in deep-sea fishing.

The depression, which is forecast to develop into a deep depression in the next 48 hours, is likely to generate winds with speeds of up to 60 kmph in the state along with thundershowers. He said the warning for fishermen will be in force till Thursday.

"Warnings have been issued that under no circumstances should fishermen venture out into the sea till March 15", Vijayan told the media here. Low-pressure formations are common off the Kerala coast during September-November. Cyclone Ockhi also raised questions about the government's preparedness to deal with major natural calamities.

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