On Thursday the southern states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu has been affected terribly as Cyclone Ockhi hurtled towards the Lakshadweep Islands, uprooting trees, snapping power lines and dumping rain in its wake.

After originating in the Bay of Bengal, Cyclone Ockhi, the first in the cyclone season, has killed at least eight people so far.

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has warned that the depression over the ocean may intensify rains in the region in the next 24 hours. The depression hovered over the south-west of Bay of Bengal on Wednesday, and lies at about 70km south of Kanyakumari currently, Regional Meteorological Centre director S. Balachandran told reporters in Chennai.

Authorities have asked people to remain indoors and educational institutions to close down in three districts of south Kerala as the Indian Railways cancelled at least 12 trains.

According to media sources, 250 fishermen have been missing off the coast of Thiruvananthapuram. The Indian Navy has launched search and rescue operations and set up a Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief operation in southern Kerala.

Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan held discussions through video conferencing with the Collectors of Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Alapuzha, Pathnamthitta, Idukki and Ernakulam districts and gave them necessary directions to take steps by coordinating various government agencies. He also asked the officials to take emergency rescue operations in the affected areas and asked them to maintain extreme vigil.

Nirmala Sitharaman on Twitter said that the Defence Ministry office is in touch with both Indian Coast Guard and Indian Navy. She also spoke with Inspector General Nautiyal, Regional Commander (West) Coast Guard and have asked to step up the rescue measures.

Two teams of the National Disaster Response Force or NDRF – with about 60 personnel – have been sent to Kanyakumari. Another team of 47 will be on standby in Kochi in Kerala to help out in Lakshadweep if needed.

Madhavan Rajeevan, Secretary in the Ministry of Earth Sciences, said the Lakshadweep archipelago in the southern part of the Arabian Sea will start experiencing heavy rainfall and strong winds from December 1.

“It will hit the islands on December 2,” Mr Rajeevan said.