Category Archives: News Flash

News Flash – 16 October 2018

National News



Robber breaks into vacant bungalows in Vasai, makes himself at home for months


Mumbai: Rajkumar Nishad, 25, is a classic unwelcome houseguest with a criminal twist. He breaks into vacant bungalows in the Vasai-Virar region, loots them at leisure while staying for weeks and months in them using the facilities and food stored inside. He was recently arrested after spending over three months in the bungalow of an NRI in Vasai. Acting on a tip-off, around two weeks ago a trap was laid and Nishad was arrested from a vacant two storey bungalow located at Ambadi Road in Vasai (west). It turned out the owners, based in Dubai, had no clue. “They learnt only after we contacted them,” said investigating officer Asif Baig. Nishad, who also goes by the name Brijesh, has confessed to having robbed and stayed in six vacant bungalows in the jurisdiction of Vasaigaon and Manickpur police stations in Vasai. Cops suspect he may have targeted many more. A number of NRIs and business families in Mumbai have invested in sprawling one-and two-storey bungalows in the region. They visit barely twice a year and the houses remains unattended (without security) for months. Many of these bungalows have closed circuit televisions (CCTVs) which are damaged by the thieves.


A few months ago, Nishad had broken into a vacant bungalow in the Stella area of Vasai (west). He stayed for a few days and left along with valuables, an LCD TV and a car. Interestingly, he abandoned the car at a distance outside another vacant bungalow. What the cops didn’t know was that Nishad had parked himself in that bungalow. “He used to take a shower, bring meals from outside and eat it inside the comfort of the bungalow,” said Baig, adding that he never switched on the lights. He stole gold, silver ornaments, cash and expensive goods from the NRI’s bungalow. Nishad got trapped when the police were questioning another thief in connection with another theft. He spoke about Nishad and how he operated. It emerged that though Nishad used to operate alone initially, he later roped in an accomplice as he would get bored in the sprawling houses. The police said Nishad would scout for vacant bungalows. After being convinced the occupants would not return for days, he would carry out a robbery and stay in it. The police have recovered goods worth Rs 3 lakh. Most of the other valuables had been sold off.



AI Air Hostess falls 30 feet from parked plane at city Airport



Mumbai: An Air India flight attendant fell from the rear door of a parked Boeing 777 onto the tarmac in Mumbai on Monday morning, suffering serious injuries. The distance from the door to the ground, sources said, could have been around 9 metres, or about 30 feet. The accident occurred at 6.10am, when Harsha Lobo (52) and her cabin crew colleagues were readying the aircraft for a 7am departure to Delhi. “The step ladder wasn’t aligned to the door when she opened it. She slipped and fell through the gap between the door and the ladder, onto the tarmac,” said a source. “Though seriously injured, she wasn’t unconscious”. Lobo suffered a compound fracture on the right leg, fractures in both heels and soft tissue injury in the chest, abdomen and lower spine. “She also suffered a sprain in the neck (cervical spine sprain),” said Nanavati Hospital’s COO Dr Rajendra Patankar. This is the second accident in recent years involving an Air India staffer at Mumbai airport. On December 16, 2015, in a freak accident, service engineer Ravi Subramanian died after he was sucked into the live engine of an A319 aircraft that was being readied for a Hyderabad flight. Elaborating on Monday’s incident, a cabin crew member said, “The normal procedure is that after a step ladder is aligned to an aircraft door, the ladder operator climbs up and taps the window of the door to indicate to the crew that the door can be safely opened.


After a crew member opens the door, a red rope is fastened across it till the time it is opened for passenger use. Air India has begun an investigation. The key question is whether the step ladder operator had wrongly indicated that it was aligned to the door or whether the flight attendant opened the door before she got the indication. An airline spokesperson said, “(The flight attendant) fell while closing the door… She has been admitted to Nanavati Hospital”. Praveen Tonsekar, a business class passenger who was on the flight, said the passengers were unaware of the accident. “We had all boarded by 7am. The doors were locked. But after 15 minutes, the captain announced that the flight was awaiting air traffic control clearance. Then, at 7.30am, he announced that there were some technical and safety issues. Finally, around 8.05am, the aircraft pushed back for departure,” he said. “It was only after I landed in Delhi after 10am and was on my way for my meeting that a friend called to tell me about the accident. It’s very sad. I did see the crew group up and talk among themselves, but I thought they must be discussing the technical issue that led to the delay”.



Zika Alert: Checks on fever cases among pregnant to increase



Mumbai: Following a high-level meeting on Zika viral disease convened by the Centre on Monday, the state public health department has alerted its machinery to increase surveillance of fever cases, particularly in pregnant women. Exposure to the viral infection during pregnancy can cause infants to be born with microcephaly (smaller head) and other congenital malformations. Dr Sanjeev Kamble, head of directorate of health services (DHS), said till date Maharashtra has not had any zika-positive case. But, since the vector that causes dengue and chikungunya, also transmits zika, surveillance has been increased. He said the state has also told the airport authorities to keep an eye on passengers from Rajasthan, where the count of zika-positive cases has crossed 60 as on Monday. An 85-year-old woman from Jaipur was said to be the first casualty of Zika virus.


Dr Kamble said as part of surveillance in the state, National Institute of Virology (Pune) was told to test samples of nearly 100 pregnant women from Pune and Nashik with fever and flu-like symptoms. “It was random sampling and not even one has come positive for Zika. Despite that we have increased fever surveillance through the community and hospitals,” said Kamble. Around 11 busy maternity centres reporting high volume child births across the state have been put on microcephaly alert. “At these centres, the care-givers will keep an eye on the head circumference of newborns, which can serve as an indicator,” said Kamble. Apart from treatment, testing facilities will be expanded. Kamble said NIV will handhold six centres, including hospitals in Solapur, Wardha and Dhule, to carry out tests. Vector control measures to curb breeding of aedes aegypti mosquitoes are also being strengthened.



72-hour pollution forecast system launched in capital


New Delhi: Ahead of the pollution season, the Centre on Monday launched an air quality prediction system that would forecast the state of the air three days in advance for various areas in the capital and several localities in Gurgaon, Ghaziabad and Rohtak. The new service is expected to not only help residents gear up for bad-air days but also equip enforcement agencies in taking pre-emptive action and issuing warnings. The Air Quality Early Warning System is based on real time data of air quality and gives details of natural aerosols like dust, SO2, NO2 as well as particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) using different satellite data and other sources. “People can access the information on air quality for the next three days through the ‘media corner’ of the CPCB website. The system is meant to issue alerts on large scale air pollution events which may occur over Delhi region,” said CPCB chairman S P Singh Parihar.



12 new Zika cases in Jaipur; no. rises to 72



Jaipur: Twelve new cases of Zika virus were detected in Jaipur on Monday, taking the total number of infected people to 72, a Rajasthan health department official said. The figures were issued after a review meeting chaired by additional chief secretary medical and health, Veenu Gupta. “Sixty out of the total 72 patients are healthy after treatment,” the official said after the meeting. Most of the cases have been reported from Shastri Nagar area here where fogging and other anti-larvae activities are being carried out to prevent the spread of the virus, he said.



Walk-in fraud: How this gang steals money via OTP


New Delhi: Crooks fraudulently getting bank customers to share their one-time password (OTP) for online transactions and then stealing from their accounts is passe. These days, such cheats can walk into banks, request a change in the customer’s registered mobile number and use the new connection to receive OTPs for transactions. These new modus operandi came to the notice of New Delhi district police while investigating a case. DCP Madhur Verma revealed that Koshi Kumar, a 30-year-old man from Jharkhand, has been arrested and he has disclosed crucial information on the activities of the gang using this method. “On September 17, we received a complaint from Rajender Singh, a resident of Janakpuri, about crooks withdrawing Rs 11.5 lakh from his current account. The victim had an account at the Ashok Hotel branch of Central Bank of India,” Verma said. During investigations led by ACP Alok Kumar’s team, the cops scanned footage of CCTV cameras in the bank and got the bank employees to give details of the accounts used in the fraudulent transactions.


The cops established that on August 31, two persons had arrived at the bank and one of them impersonated the account holder. They requested a change in the registered mobile number and filled in the prescribed form. Once the new mobile number was registered, the crooks carried out online transfers from the victim’s account using the OTPs sent to the new phone. The Rs 11.5 lakh withdrawn in this manner was transferred to six different accounts held in a bank in Dwarka and then withdrawn through ATM’s and cheques, the cops discovered. After the crime, the mobile phone on which the OTPs were sent was switched off. Police, however, tracked one of the men to Jharkhand through technical surveillance. On his arrest, he spilled the beans on Vinod Kumar, the alleged kingpin, now being pursued by the cops. Cheque books of Syndicate Bank and Bank of Baroda and the mobile phone used in the crime were seized. “The role of bank employees is being probed and we are trying to ascertain the exact number of people duped by the gang,” said DCP Verma.



Sting in the weather: Swine flu claims 6 lives in 15 days


Hyderabad: The frequent fluctuation in day time temperatures over the last two weeks has not only led to an alarming rise in cases of dreaded H1N1 (swine flu) virus, but also resulted in significant increase in the count of influenza, dengue, malaria and viral fever patients across Telangana. From Hyderabad alone, six swine flu deaths have been reported in last 15 days, with the last two being reported on Monday morning. Apart from private facilities, the load of influenza and fever cases has shot up drastically even in government hospitals, with the Fever Hospital recording 1,600 out-patients per day. Of them, 600-650 are cases of influenza fever, said doctors who point out how the number, this time, is more than double the usual count of cases recorded at the facility. “Typically November-December is when influenza cases peak. We are already seeing an increase in cases and the number of out-patients has doubled up as compared to two months ago. The change in weather and temperature fluctuations make the conditions favourable for viral activity,” said Dr K Shankar, director, Institute of Preventive Medicine and superintendent of Fever Hospital. The influenza-like fever patients at the hospital are being tested for Influenza A, dengue and H1N1 (swine flu). As per latest records, 320 new cases of dengue and 61 cases of malaria were detected in the first week of October in the state. On Monday, six patients admitted at the Gandhi Hospital were tested positive for swine flu while three more were suspected of being affected by the virus. While influenza is a self-limiting viral fever, a close watch has to be maintained to look out for other types of viruses, said experts, as many viral fevers are difficult to confirm.



Deshapriya Park fire sparks panic



Kolkata: A fire at a residential building opposite Deshapriya Park puja pandal around 2.30pm on Monday caused panic in the area. The Disaster Management Group (DMG) was pressed to action and the fire was doused within half-an-hour. According to preliminary investigation, the fire started from a short-circuit in the air-conditioning machine. Cops said none was injured or trapped inside the building Home Guard assaulted, one held: A Jadavpur resident was arrested on Monday for assaulting a home guard, who was on duty at Gariahat crossing. The incident took place at 12.10pm when Saikat Dey, the home guard, was assaulted by the passerby. The accused was later identified as Deepanjan Sen. The home guard was rescued by a traffic sergeant and was arrested by Gariahat police. Private bus hits man: A 67-year-old person, identified as Gopinath Ghosh, was seriously injured and rushed to Maniktala ESI hospital on Monday after a Ultadanga-bound private bus on route 215A hit him at Kankugachi crossing at 6pm. Ghosh sustained severe injuries. Cops said the bus hit Ghosh while he was trying to cross the road.



International News



10 Die in France Flash Floods unseen in more than a century



Paris: Flash floods tore through towns in southwest France, turning waterways into raging torrents that killed at least 10 people, authorities said on Monday. People had to be helicoptered from the roofs of their homes as overnight storms dumped the equivalent of several months of rain in a few hours. Initially, the French interior ministry announced 13 deaths from the floods in the Aude region. But French PM Edouard Philippe said after visiting damaged areas that the number was corrected to 10. Authorities said some victims had been counted twice. In the town of Villegailhenc, resident Ines Siguet said floodwaters rose so quickly after the rains swept in from the Mediterranean that residents fled to rooftops. Siguet, 17, posted video of a ripped-up road where a bridge used to stand. “There’s nothing left. There’s just a hole,” the teenager said. “It was very violent.” The River Aude, which flows through Carcassonne, Trebes and other towns, reached levels unseen since floods in 1891.

News Flash – 12 October 2018

National News



199 H1N1 deaths across state this year, 1 from Mira Road



Mumbai: The state’s public health department on Thursday said that deaths due to H1N1 infection numbered 199 this year in Maharashtra and blamed self-medication and delay in seeking treatment as some of the main factors. Public health minister Dr Deepak Sawant said that since the start of the year over 16,000 admissions were related to the respiratory infection. “People should not ignore symptoms like fever, cough and cold. They should seek medical treatment without any delay,” said Sawant. This year, nearly 1,700 people have tested positive for the virus. Sawant said that at a recent meeting of the infectious disease control committee, it was decided that H1N1patients on life-support will be treated as per a uniform protocol. While Mumbai has been lucky to record only a handful positive cases and no deaths so far, districts like Pune, Nashik, Ahmednagar, Satara and Kolhapur have been reeling under the epidemic. State epidemiologist Dr Pradeep Awate said people have delayed seeking treatment for up to a week. “Many have gone into complications because of the delay in taking treatment on time,” he said. City doctors say H1N1 cases have started coming since end of September. Awate said only one death has been reported from Mira Road in the Mumbai metro region. “Those with underlying health conditions like diabetes and hypertension have to be extra vigilant. Weather changes seen this time of the year are conducive for transmission of the virus,” Awate added.



Titli pounds AP: 4k evacuated, 196 villages in Srikakulam hit


Visakhapatnam: Cyclone Titli left a trail of destruction in Srikakulam and several other parts of AP and Odisha on Thursday. Over 4,500 people including 3,000 from Srikakulam and 1,500 from Vizianagaram were evacuated to safer places. A total of 196 villages in 12 mandals in Srikakulam district took the brunt of the cyclonic storm. The road network in Srikakulam suffered extensive damage, while the power distribution network was also severely affected. More than 2,000 electric poles were uprooted by strong winds. While a 62-year-old woman died at Gudivada Agraharam village after a tree fell on her, a 55-year-old man died in a house collapse at Rotanasa village in Srikakulam district, the AP State Disaster Management Authority said. The AP CMO said the other six killed were fishermen who had ventured into the sea. No major damages were reported from Vizianagaram district. While 1.39 lakh acres of crops were damaged in Srikakulam, it was 4,000 acres in Vizianagaram. “Except minor damages to nearly 4,000 acres of crops, no major damages were reported from Vizianagaram district,” district collector Hari Jawaharlal told TOI.


Power supply to nearly 89.12 lakh households in 4,677 villages was disrupted from Wednesday night to Thursday morning. A 132 KV sub-station, which caters to Tekkali and surrounding areas, was completely destroyed. Traffic on National Highway-16 (Chennai-Kolkata) on the Srikakulam-Palasa stretch came to a halt after the uprooted trees blocked some sections of the highway. In Tekkali, empty containers of nearly 30 trucks were seen lying on the road. The cyclone has also caused severe damage to railway property. Railway tracks were damaged from Srikakulam to Icchapuram. Railway stations at Palasa, Naupada and Kotabommali were severely damaged, while Mandasa, Icchapuram and Tilaru stations were hit partially. The railways refunded nearly Rs.50 lakhs to passengers due to cancellation of trains on the Chennai-Howrah main line from Wednesday night to Thursday night. Waltair divisional railway manager MS Mathur said teams including track specialists, bridge engineers, overhead electricity engineers are on the spot carrying out repairs between Brahmapur-Palasa and Palasa-Kotabommali.



Traffic cop prevents Robbery



Bengaluru: An assistant sub-inspector attached to the Banasawadi traffic police stopped miscreants from stealing Rs 5 lakh outside an ATM in Kalyan Nagar on Thursday. The van had two cash custodians, an armed guard and a driver. In Kalyan Nagar, one cash custodian took Rs 6 lakh into the kiosk along with the armed guard to load it into the ATM at 2pm. When another cash custodian and the driver got down from the vehicle and walked a few feet away, two men jumped into the vehicle and drove away. Traffic ASI Kumar, who was at a nearby junction, noticed them escaping with the vehicle and chased them on his bike. On seeing the cop, the miscreants jumped out of the vehicle and took to their heels. Banaswadi police rushed to the spot and seized the vehicle which had Rs 5 lakh. Police are grilling cash custodians Satish Kumar, 34, and Deepak, 26, guard Manju, 46, and driver Suman, 24.



Rise in Swine Flu cases lead to space crunch at Gandhi wards


Hyderabad: The steady rise in swine flu (H1N1) cases in the state has led to a severe space crunch at the city’s Gandhi Hospital. While the disaster ward that houses patients who have tested positive for H1N1had none of its nine beds vacant on Thursday, the respiratory ward, used for suspected swine flu patients, had only nine of its 36 beds available. According to hospital insiders, the rush of patients shifting out of private facilities, has also added to the burden. “These patients are being directed to Gandhi when they are not able to pay the high charges any more or their condition is deteriorating drastically,” said a source referring to one such patient, Nagalakshmi, who recently moved into the state-run facility after failing to deal with the spiraling costs at a private hospital. “The disaster ward — also a quarantine ward — has been full for the last few days. On Thursday, we also had district hospitals sending their patients here,” the insider added. While health authorities, alarmed by the surge in positive cases over the last few weeks — and anticipating a further increase in numbers — have already directed district hospitals to inspect and keep isolation wards ready for housing swine flu patients, they have also stated that those with the highest level of risk must be sent to the Gandhi Hospital.



More than half of city’s pubs & bars not Fire Safe



Hyderabad: The next time you decide to hop into a pub or bar for a night out with friends, you might want to think again. For, more than half of the city’s pubs and bars, including those housed in five-star hotels, are unsafe as they do not comply with fire safety norms, inspections by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation’s (GHMC) Directorate of Enforcement, Vigilance & Disaster Management (EV&DM) have revealed. After the civic body served notices to 750 pubs and restaurants in August to ensure that they pull up their socks within three months or face action, 550 submitted their documents. The rest ignored the notice. Ironically, while some outlets furnished the requisite papers and upgraded their fire safety equipment, most of those who submitted the documents did not meet fire safety norms. What is more shocking being that not a single pub in five star hotels across the city had fire NOC, confirmed GHMC officials. “While serving notices to pubs and bars across the city, we noticed that even hotels with five-star accreditation do not have fire NOC for their pubs and bars. Of the pubs and bar that submitted fire safety documents after being served notices, only one five-star hotel applied for fire NOC,” said a top GHMC official. According to Viswajit Kampati (IPS), director, EV&DM, GHMC, most hotel, pub and restaurant managements are unaware of the basic mandatory fire safety norms.


“The fire safety equipment and precautionary measures change with the quantum of built-up space, material used for construction (interiors), floor on which the pub/bar is located, among other factors, but most of them are not aware of the basics,” said Kampati. They also vary with the number of footfalls. For instance, outlets witnessing footfalls of over 300 and below 500 have been instructed to install 900LPM capacity fire pumps, while those with footfalls of over 500 need to install one 2280 LMP diesel pump and one 180 LPM capacity electric jockey pump. However, some precautionary measures, including fire extinguisher, hose reel and fire alarm, are common for all the places irrespective of size and footfalls. Sources said the process of ground verification will pick up pace post-polling, which is when GHMC has decided to crack down on pubs and bars flouting the norms. These establishments had to furnish details of all the fire safety equipment they have installed by filling up a form that is available at In the form, the managements had to mention the fire safety measures taken up by them, which in turn are inspected by GHMC’s EV&DM officials.



Titli’s slow re-curve spares city heavy downpour on Day-I


Kolkata: After cyclone Titli hit the Andhra Pradesh and Odisha coast with the wind speed touching 126 km/hour on Thursday, it re-curved slower than expected on landfall, losing intensity and sparing Kolkata heavy showers. While the city received just a few spells of light drizzle instead of the intense rain that had been predicted, showers could lash Kolkata from Friday afternoon as the storm finally re-curves and reaches Gangetic Bengal in the form of a depression. The rain could continue till Saturday morning, said the Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC). “A cyclone usually curves after hitting land which helps the system retain intensity. But Titli continued to move in a north-westerly direction for six hours after hitting land at 11.30am. So, it kept losing intensity and turned into a cyclonic storm and later, a deep depression. By the time it reaches Gangetic Bengal on Friday morning, it will have turned into a depression. The city could receive moderate showers under its impact from Friday afternoon,” said RMC director G K Das. Earlier, the cyclone had moved west-northwestwards at a speed of 13 km/hour and hit the Andhra-Odisha coast, triggering heavy rain. But the devastating effects of the cyclone were hardly felt in Kolkata, which was bracing for a wet run-up to the Puja. Other than a couple of light drizzles, the city remained dry, though cloudy.


“It would have rained heavily had the cyclone curved on landfall. But it took unusually long to turn. But since Titli is reaching Gangetic Bengal slightly later than expected, the showers could linger, too. But we expect the skies to be clear by October 14,” said a weather scientist. Meanwhile, 20 flights arriving in Kolkata were delayed and one departing flight from the city was cancelled owing to cyclone Titli. “Flight and train operations have taken a major hit, disrupting travel along the east coast. About 16% of the inbound and outbound flights from Bhubaneshwar have been cancelled, and 27% of the flights to and from Vizag have been delayed. While no major impact has been seen on Kolkata yet, weather reports indicate heavy rain in Bengal over the next 24 hours, which may lead to flight and train cancellations,” said Aloke Bajpai, CEO and co-founder of travel portal Ixigo. The Met office has predicted heavy to very heavy showers across south Bengal on Friday and Saturday. Howrah, Hoogly, East and West Midnapore, Burdwan, South and North 24 Parganas, Murshidabad, Birbhum and Nadia are expected to receive rain over the next 48 hours.



Zika scare puts state on Alert



Kolkata: Even as Kolkata grapples with a dengue outbreak, a Zika virus case in neighbouring Bihar has led to an alarm. It has prompted the state health department to start monitoring the situation. The vector-borne virus — transmitted by the same aedis egypti mosquito that spreads dengue and chikungunya — has similar symptoms to the other two and can be sexually transmitted as well. A Zika-infected pregnant woman can pass on the virus to the unborn child which may have congenital deformities. “It’s too early to contemplate preventive measures but we are keeping an eye on the situation,” said director of health services Ajay Chakrabarty. Several Zika cases have been reported from Rajasthan as well. “Like dengue and chikungunya, Zika is an RNA virus that spreads easily but remains undetected. Its symptoms are headache, joint pain, vomiting and high fever. Zika is not life-threatening, unless it’s passed in to foetus from an infected mother. The unborn child could die or have congenital deformities,” said AMRI Hospital consultant Debashish Saha. Two Zika outbreaks were reported in India last year. But Bengal has remained largely unaffected so far. In 2016, the state health department had conducted a survey of newborn children to find out if they had microcephaly — a condition that leads to abnormally small heads. “Zika symptoms are difficult to distinguish from ordinary viral fever or dengue. But it’s rarely fatal. It’s very rare in our state but since it has happened in Bihar, we ought to be cautious.


Since we already have hundreds of dengue patients, a Zika outbreak could complicate matters,” said Fortis Hospital internal medicine specialist Joydeep Ghosh. Zika virus infections during pregnancy have been linked to miscarriage and birth defects, including microcephaly — a potentially fatal congenital brain condition. Zika virus may also lead to other neurological disorders like Guillain-Barre syndrome. Treatment of Zika, like dengue, is symptomatic. “There is no drug specific to the virus. Patients need paracetamol to control fever and pain-killers. As in dengue, parameters like blood pressure, heart rate and functioning of the vital organs need to be monitored constantly. Especially in the case of pregnant women since the virus can be transmitted through the uterus to the foetus,” said Saha. But experts said it could be risky travelling to areas where a Zika outbreak has happened. “It’s contagious like dengue but leads to neurological complications more than haematological ones. The symptoms could last between two to seven days. Often, the disease remains asymptomatic. Since Zika can be sexually transmitted, the spread happens faster,” said consultant Arindam Biswas. Times View: There is no need to panic just yet but we should be prepared. This disease has already affected pockets in South America and the United States and now a couple of Indian states. There should be proper dissemination of information and a ready plan of action.



5 Tribals killed, 12 hurt as Mini Truck plunges into 50 feet gorge



Coimbatore: Five tribal people were killed and 12 others injured after a minitruck they were travelling in fell into a 50-ft deep gorge from the eighth hairpin bend on Kadamparai Road near Pollachi here on Wednesday night. According to police, at the time of the incident the vehicle was driven by V Rajan, 40, of Kurumalai, who didn’t have a driving licence. The incident took place when 18 people from the three tribal settlements of Mavadappu, Kattupatti and Kurumalai were returning to their houses from Kottur weekly market. A press note issued by the Udumalpet forest range office said the driver lost control of the vehicle and the truck rolled down the Ghat road. It came to halt after hitting a tree. Two people died on the spot, while three others succumbed to their injuries on the way to the government hospital in Pollachi. While twelve others were injured, a 10-year-old boy, identified as V Rajkumar of Kurumalai, escaped without any injury. The boy, however, lost his parents in the mishap. The injured managed to reach the main road after walking for an hour and alerted motorists, who contacted the rural police. Following this, all the 12 injured were taken to the Pollachi government hospital. The Kadamparai police have registered a case.



International News



Michael kills 2 in US, heads inwards



Miami: At least two people were killed as Hurricane Michael, one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the continental the US, slammed into Florida, unleashing a trail of destruction by flooding beach towns, peeling off roofs and snapping trees before advancing to the Carolinas. Two people, including a child, were killed by falling debris, the US media reported on Thursday. Thousands of homes and businesses were left without electricity in Florida, Alabama and Georgia. Michael made landfall on Wednesday in Florida, dashing homes into pieces, CNN said. It was the strongest to hit the continental US since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Now, having weakened to a tropical storm, Michael was on its way to the Carolinas.

News Flash – 11 October 2018

National News



Odisha moves 3 lakhs to safety, braces for ‘very severe’ Titli

The rising sea level at Candolim beach in Goa. Tourists were asked to stay away at several beaches in Goa for a few hours on Wednesday after surging sea water hit the coastline during noon high tide.



Bhubaneswar: More than three lakh people were evacuated from the seaside villages on Wednesday as the state government moved to batten down the hatches before cyclone Titli hits the Odisha coast. Titli, which has now intensified into a very severe cyclonic storm, is expected to make landfall between Gopalpur in Odisha and Kalingapatnam in Andhra Pradesh between 5.30am and 11am on Thursday. The cyclone is expected to cause extremely heavy rainfall accompanied by wind blowing at a speed of up to 165 kilometres per hour in coastal Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. The state government has issued red alert for the 18 districts of Gajapati, Ganjam, Puri, Rayagada, Koraput, Kandhamal, Kalahandi, Boudh, Balangir, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Khurda, Nayagarh, Cuttack, Jajpur, Dhenkanal, Bhadrak and Balasore. Markets across the state witnessed heavy rush, with panic-stricken people stocking up on essential commodities as storm inched closer to the Odisha coast. Within hours of the Met office forecast of Titli hitting Odisha coast on Thursday, prices of essential commodities and grocery shot through the roof.


“The demand for candles, matchboxes, onions, potatoes, salt, sugar and other necessary items has increased. People are also buying noodles and biscuits,” Kartika Sahu, a grocer of Unit-IV market in the city, said. Special relief commissioner and managing director of Odisha State Disaster Management Authority, Bishnupada Sethi, said people living in low lying areas of Ganjam, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapada and Khurda districts, which are supposed to face the brunt of the storm, have been moved to safety. Odisha government has announced the closure of all educational institutes and anganwadi centres for two days and placed rescue personnel of National Disaster Response Force and Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force on standby. Five Indigo flights scheduled for Thursday from Bhubaneswar have been cancelled while several trains too have been cancelled.



Swiggy, Zomato in a soup, get notices for deliveries from unsafe Restaurants


Mumbai: Leading food aggregators, including Swiggy and Zomato, have been served show cause notices by the state Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for delivering food from unlicensed and unregistered restaurants, many of whom were caught preparing meals in extremely unhygienic conditions. Around 113 of such eateries have been asked to shut shop with immediate effect. Over 20 food inspectors of the FDA carried out checks at 347 restaurants between September 21 and October 1. ‘Stop business’ notices were given to 113 restaurants functioning without a licence and in contravention of sanitary requirements laid down under the Food Safety and Standard Act. Swiggy had tie-ups with 85 such eateries, Zomato with 50, Food Panda with three and Uber Eats with two. FDA commissioner Pallavi Darade said it was one of the biggest drives after the online ordering and delivering business came into vogue. “Aggregators are responsible for the quality of food till it’s delivered. They have to be mindful of the licensing conditions just like restaurants,” she said. She added that citizens too should be aware of the places they order from. “It will be a continuous campaign now,” she said. The FDA officials found that meals were cooked in filthy kitchens with bins kept close to raw materials. Also, the kitchens lacked ventilation, used clothes were hanging nearby and staffers worked without medical clearances.


FDA assistant commissioner (vigilance) Dilip Sawant said at least 59 of 113 eateries were pulled up purely for violating hygiene requirements, including Udta Punjab from Andheri east, Anda Apna Apna (Goregaon) and Foodies Home Delivery Guru in Chembur. He said the restaurants can reapply for licence after rectifying the violations. “There will be a re-inspection and if there is compliance, they will get a licence,” he said. In July, the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) issued a directive asking e-commerce sites to delist unlicensed and non-registered restaurants by September 30. TOI reported on Wednesday that 10,500 such restaurants from all over India have been delisted by the aggregators. A Swiggy spokesperson said, “As of October 1, all restaurants on Swiggy have FSSAI licences or acknowledgements. In the last two months, we have delisted hundreds of restaurants not compliant with regulations or which have poor ratings. We are also helping many restaurants procure licences”.



Gang disables cell, steals Rs.16 Lakhs with new SIM


Mumbai: A BKC-based automobile company lost nearly Rs16 lakh to phishing as a gang accessed its bank account and made fund transfers with the help of a new SIM card they procured for the firm’s mobile number linked to the account. While two gang members were arrested from Delhi and another from Mumbai, police are on the lookout for the kingpin who hacked into the company’s bank account. Since the bank account was illegally accessed, investigators suspect that some company official might have inadvertently responded to some phishing mail, leading to the account details being stolen. Else, someone from the company must have leaked the account details to the gang, sources say. The transactions were made on September 17 during the Ganesh Chaturthi holidays. When the office reopened that week, financial department officials found the mobile phone number dead. When they contacted the service provider, they were told that a new SIM was provided the earlier week following a request from the company.


“The service provider showed a mail they received from the company’s mail asking for a new SIM for their number,” a police officer said. It means OTPs for banking transactions were received by the gang as they had the new SIM; the company’s SIM had been deactivated to provide the new SIM. Subsequently, when the company officials checked the bank account online, they found Rs.15.6 lakhs had been transferred in three transactions to accounts in Mumbai and Delhi, and then approached the police. “Vikaskumar Shah (25) and Umar Ali (38) were nabbed from Delhi and Rajendra Verma from Mumbai based on the details of the bank accounts to which the money was transferred. The gang used Shah and Verma’s bank accounts to park their money by paying them a commission,” said an officer from BKC police station adding that Ali helped the kingpin to transfer the funds.



Bengaluru saw 4 H1N1 deaths in 44 days


Bengaluru: In the past 44 days, a pregnant woman and three others have died in Bengaluru due to Influenza A (H1N1) virus as per patient data with the state-run Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases (RGICD), Bengaluru. Three of these cases were reported in October. The health department is, however, cross-checking the test reports of the cases and is yet to declare the actual number of deaths. So far, 416 positive cases of H1N1 have been seen in the state. According to data at RGICD, the first death occurred on August 27, when a pregnant woman from east Bengaluru, referred from a private hospital, succumbed to the infection. It took the government 44 days to acknowledge the first death. Dr S Sajjan Shetty, joint director, National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme, said the reports arrived on Wednesday and he would look into the issue. “We have received a report on the deaths and are looking into it,” he said. “She was a 24-year-old woman, who was in her 24th week of pregnancy. The second incident was reported on October 1, when a 60-year-old woman died. On October 7, there were two more deaths, that of a 55-year-old man and a 37-year-old woman.


In all these cases, co-morbid conditions developed as the viral infection progressed. The cause of death is H1N1 infection itself,” said Dr C Nagaraj, director, RGICD. “As instructed by the government, we are sending data to the urban district health officer. Not sure how the same is not being updated in the state data,” he added. When urban district health officer Dr Sreenivas Golur called for a media briefing on October 6, he had said no deaths were seen in Bengaluru. While stating that every H1N1 case reported by the hospitals was sent to the officer concerned in the state health and family welfare department, Dr Golur declined to comment on the deaths not being reported. “Ask the officers in the department,” he said. Currently, RGICD has five suspected H1N1 cases and two positive cases. “We have one patient, a 60-year-old man, in the ICU. Besides, there is a 50-year-old woman, who is H1N1 positive and is being treated in the ward. Compared to the previous month, RGICD is seeing more cases now. “In September, we had 45 suspected cases out of which two were positive. In October, 39 patients have been screened, out of which six are positive,” said Dr Nagaraj.



5 killed as nine coaches of Farakka Express derail in UP


Harchandpur (Rae Bareli): Nine coaches and the engine of New Delhi-bound 14003 New Farakka Express derailed at Harchandpur railway station near Rae Bareli early on Wednesday, killing at least five people and injuring 39 others. Eyewitnesses said they heard a loud thud and then sparks flew from the screeching wheels of the coaches. “Everyone tumbled over each other and there was chaos everywhere. We rushed out and saw our coach was near the fields and the tracks all twisted, large concrete sleepers were thrown all around and the engine was stood on the ground, away from the track,” said a passenger Ranjan Kumar, a native of Munger. The train was on its way from Malda in Bengal to New Delhi. Railway officials said nine coaches next to the engine, including an SLR, two general coaches and sleeper coaches from S6 to S11 derailed near Harchandpur station at 6.10 am. While the SLR and the two general coaches along with three sleepers (S9 to S11) coaches were badly damaged, the other sleeper coaches were derailed. Rescue team had to cut the iron sheet of the coaches to bring out the injured passengers.



Cyclone Titli on course for landfall, but Met gives hope of a dry Puja


Kolkata: The city could be lashed by heavy rain on Thursday and Friday but cyclone Titli-induced showers are set to cease before the festivities begin. While rain could continue till Sunday, it will gradually weaken, paving the way for a clear sky from Monday, which happens to be Sasthi. The Met office has predicted ‘fair weather’ between October 16 and 19, dispelling fears of a wet Puja. On Wednesday, Kolkata received 13.9mm rain. Titli, which turned into a ‘severe cyclonic storm’ on Wednesday, approached the coast at a speed of 15km/hr and was headed for a landfall between Gopalpur in Odisha and Kalingapatnam in Andhra Pradesh on Thursday morning. “Kolkata will receive heavy showers on at least two days between Thursday and Saturday. Since the cyclone will be weakening after landfall, showers will lose intensity after that. On Sunday, Kolkata and South Bengal could remain cloudy with intermittent rain. But the weather should be clear from Monday and till now there is no possibility of rain during the Puja,” said Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC) director GK Das. He added that once a big system like a cyclonic storm moves away, the weather remains clear. “Unlike monsoon when you can have successive low pressures, chances of another system developing are remote now. A cyclone sucks out moisture from the atmosphere, reducing the chances of further rain,” explained Das.


According to an RMC bulletin, very heavy showers could lash the districts of South and North 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, East and West Midnapore, Murshidabad, Burdwan Nadia, Bankura and Purulia between Thursday and Saturday. Wind speed could reach 130-140km/hr over deep sea areas of west, central and adjoining north Bay of Bengal and gradually increase to 145km/hr on Thursday. In the coastal areas of Bengal, wind speed could touch 80km/hr early on Thursday when the cyclone is scheduled to hit land. On land, wind speed could rise to 60km/hr in the districts of East and West Midnapore, North and South 24 Parganas over the next two days. Kolkata is set to receive an intense spell of rain over the next 24 hours. It had been predicted that the city could start receiving showers from Wednesday evening but rain struck earlier. By 2pm, the skies turned grey and a steady drizzle followed. The rain ceased late in the afternoon. “We expect at least one very heavy spell by late on Thursday evening. More could follow over the next 48 hours,” said Das.



KMC engineer’s child, 2 others die of Dengue


Kolkata: Three persons in the city died of dengue on Wednesday, including the 10-year-old daughter of a Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) engineer. The girl died in a private hospital off the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass. A 13-year old girl from Belgharia died of dengue shock syndrome at a government hospital, while in the third case, a 66-yearold man from Behala died in another private hospital in Mukundapur. The KMC engineer’s daughter, Roopkatha Pulai, had tested positive for both NS-1 and IGM tests on Tuesday, which confirmed dengue. Sources in the KMC said that Pulai had been suffering from fever for the past five days and was taken to the hospital a couple of days ago. The girl was a Class-V student of Patha Bhawan School and a resident of Kamdahari Banerjeepara, close to Garia. The KMC health department, however, did not confirm that she died of dengue. “We have not received any conclusive proof as yet. Let us examine all documents related to the treatment before declaring it as a death due to dengue,” an official said. Local CPM councilor Chayan Bhattacharya felt that due to a delay in diagnosis, and the subsequent delay in beginning actual treatment, the girl did not survive. “The girl was taken to the hospital in a critical state. Though she was suffering from fever for the past five days, it was only on Monday that she was taken for a blood test when the situation went out of control.


She tested positive for dengue and succumbed to the dreaded disease within 24 hours of admission at the private hospital,” Bhattacharya said. He added that all preventive measures were being taken to ward off the dengue threat in the neighbourhood. In the second case, Asiana Parvin, 13, died at NRS Medical College and Hospital. The girl from Belgharia was initially being treated at the College of Medicine and Sagar Dutta Hospital in Kamarhati. She was shifted to a Kolkata hospital only on Tuesday and in a critical condition. The teen died of dengue shock syndrome on Wednesday morning. Another patient who tested positive for dengue, Sudhir Makal, 66, died in the evening at a private hospital. His death certificate mentions dengue shock syndrome and multi-organ failure among the reasons for death. The Jinjira Bazar resident was admitted to the hospital with fever on October 2. His blood samples later tested positive for dengue. According to family sources, his platelet count had started improving. His family alleged that medical negligence had led to his death and has lodged a complaint with the hospital authority. “How can a patient whose condition was improving along with the platelet count die? That is why we have lodged a complaint with the hospital,” said a relative. On Tuesday, 10-year- old Anish Sarkar had died of dengue in another private hospital. With the three deaths on Wednesday, the dengue toll in the city and its surroundings has gone up to at least 15 this year.



Civic Body, Police bet on Technology to make Chennai Safer for Women


Chennai: Don’t be surprised if by 2021 you get a message from Greater Chennai Corporation that warns you about crime-prone areas in the city, or gives you coordinates of emergency call boxes nearby. The corporation and Chennai police will implement such projects for a cost of Rs.425cr under the Nirbhaya fund to make the city safer for women. A sum of Rs.255cr has been sanctioned to the corporation which will coordinate with police, MTC and social welfare department to implement these projects by 2021. The Centre and the state will share the cost on a 60:40 bases. A major chunk of the fund will be used to create safe zone clusters. “Police officials have identified around 600 locations in the city where women could be vulnerable. Smart poles will be set up at these locations for Rs.90cr,” said a project coordinator in the corporation. “These poles will have an emergency call box with video calling. The boxes will be integrated with the command and control centre of the corporation (that will come up under the smart city project). The representative will be able to see the victim and send immediate help. Police and other line departments will be integrated with this,” he said. The unsafe locations include 56 railway stations, 19 bus stands and 19 temples. Out of 1,100-plus slum areas in the city, 377, where crime against women is higher, will have these smart poles and surveillance cameras. “The city will be safer with more CCTV cameras. Our aim is to ensure that women feel safe wherever they go,” said Chennai police commissioner A K Vishwanathan.


Police officers said crime against women in Chennai was less compared to other metros. Around 16,870 incidents in 2016 were reported compared to 45,797 in Bengaluru, 1,99,445 in New Delhi, 39,617 in Mumbai and 22,519 in Kolkata. However, plans are afoot to strengthen the women police force and 40 all-women police patrol vans will be bought. A victim compensation fund will be set up by the corporation for women suffering from trauma, grievous or no grievous injuries, loss of employment and violence. This will get a budgetary allocation every year as decided by the State Legal Services Authority. Besides this, sanitation facilities will be improved through 500 e-toilets. Public transport will get security enablers such as panic buttons and RFID tags. A passenger can easily dig out the history of a driver she is travelling with using an emergency app that will be provided by the corporation. Nearly 1 lakh taxis and autos will be geo-tagged and around 500 MTC buses will get CCTV cameras. Prasanna Gettu, managing trustee of International Foundation for Crime Prevention and Victim Care, said the government’s approach to prevent crime has more to do with technology-enabled solutions than a support system. “Investing in such infrastructure will give short-term relief. Sexual harassment in public spaces can be reduced using technology but studies have revealed that countries with all such infrastructure still have high rate of crime against women,” Prasanna said. “Technology cannot address underlying causes. We should strengthen the support services and invest in changing the attitude of the people. Women should be able to come out safely to report crimes,” said Prasanna.



Burglars rob Rs. 50,000 cash, Gold worth Rs. 10 Lakhs from shop



Chennai: Burglars on Wednesday robbed a grocery shop in Tiruvallur and escaped with 40 sovereigns of gold worth Rs. 10 lakhs, Rs. 50,000 cash and a few bags containing cereals and pulses. Police said Krishnakumar, 56, and his wife Jhansi Rani, 48, were residing in Deva Nagar. They ran a grocery shop at Teachers Colony. Since they opened the shop at 6am every day and spent most of the day there, they kept their jewellery in a cash box at the shop. On Wednesday morning, when they came to open the shop, they found the shutters broken open and valuables were missing. Based on information, police reached the spot and analysed CCTV camera footage in the locality. The footage showed a van that was parked outside the shop for a while. Police then questioned local residents who said they noticed the van and believed it was parked there to unload goods at night. Police lifted fingerprints from the scene and launched a hunt for the miscreants whom they suspect to be a gang.



International News



How drones can save human bathers from Shark attacks



Australia: Can technology protect you from the jaws of a one-ton great white shark? Several Australian tech startups say yes. They’re using artificial intelligence, drones and electric force fields to try and prevent sharks from eating human bathers. This summer, sharks have attacked teenagers on beaches from California to New York. Sharks have typically frequented lower latitudes, but warming oceans are pushing their prey north, says Florida Atlantic University professor Stephen Kajiura. “We are very aware of how close to shore great whites are now hunting,” says Cynthia Wigren, chief executive officer of the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy. Last year, 16-year-old New South Wales high school student Samuel Aubin designed a smartphone app called Shark-Mate that uses AI to analyse 13 environmental factors that affect shark behaviour, including time of day, proximity to a river and recent rain. These are combined with other data, such as the number of lifeguards on duty, to calculate the odds of being attacked.


In January, the Ripper Group, which operates search and rescue drones in Australia, launched Shark Spotter, a computer programme that scans the ocean for sharks from air. The AI algorithm detects the animals based on their movement, speed, colour and swimming patterns. When it spots a shark, the drone sends an alert to lifeguards and can drop inflatable devices to swimmers in immediate danger. Shark Mate and Shark Spotter try to influence human actions; Ocean Guardian’s Shark Shield attempts to change the animal’s behaviour. The electric transmitting device emits a three-dimensional force field that causes unbearable spasms in a shark’s sensory systems, prompting the animal to turn away from its prey. Several leading shark researchers back the three technologies and predict that a combination of drones and AI will obviate the need for the shark nets that have cordoned off swimming beaches to the detriment of marine life for almost a century.

News Flash – 10 October 2018

National News



Cash Van Guard foils Rs. 4.5 crores Robbery, pays with his life

BRAVE ACT: Bishambar Singh (inset) resisted the robbers and managed to raise an alarm, forcing them to flee without the money.



New Delhi: A 50-year-old guard paid with his life as he valiantly thwarted a group of armed robbers on DND flyway in Mayur Vihar on Monday night. The men were after the Rs 4.5-crore in cash being carried in the vehicle. The victim, Bishambar Singh, was shot twice — in the head and leg. He died during treatment at hospital. Mahender, the driver of the van, told police that the assailants held him captive for some time before throwing him off the vehicle. The cops said they were verifying his claims. An officer said they received a call from the van custodian, Sandeep Kumar Shukla, about their vehicle having been intercepted by gunmen and the guard being shot. A team was rushed to the spot. By then, Singh had been taken to hospital by a passerby. He died after 12 hours. The cash van belonged to Brinks security agency and there were three people in the vehicle when it was targeted. Shukla told police that they were headed to one of their office in Noida from another in located in Janakpuri. “We left the Janakpuri office at 8.40pm and had reached DND toll around 10pm. Suddenly, the driver of a car behind us — a Scorpio — started honking incessantly.


I moved the vehicle towards the left to give way, but the car came adjacent to us and its occupants started hurling abuses at us,” Shukla said. He said he drove ahead, but the men in the Scorpio followed them and rammed the vehicle into the van. A man stepped out of the Scorpio and walked towards Singh. “He pulled out a pistol and threatened us, and before we could comprehend what was happening, he opened fire. Mahender and I stepped out of the car and started running in different directions. Mahender managed to flee, but my way was blocked by another car. Two armed men threatened to shoot me,” Shukla said, adding that he, however, managed to give them the slip and hide in the bushes. Police said the guard, Singh, continued to resist the robbers and raised an alarm. As a crowd started to gather, the men fled without the money. Shukla said he later emerged from the bushes and was joined by Mahender, who claimed that the robbers had thrown him off the car after divesting him of his phone and cash. Police are trying to verify his claims as well. Additional DCP (East) Jasmeet Singh said they were working on some leads. “Several teams have been constituted and CCTV footage is being scanned”.



Get ready for Traffic crawl: BMC to rebuild 14 bridges


Mumbai: City traffic is in for an even tighter squeeze over the next couple of years as the BMC plans to reconstruct 14 damaged bridges. Officials from the BMC bridges department said one of the structures, a foot over-bridge (FOB) at Yellow Gate in Masjid had already been demolished. The 14 structures, five of which are foot over-bridges, were among 18 that were listed as being beyond repair in a recent civic audit of 296 bridges. The audit also found that 61 bridges needed major repairs while 107 needed minor work. Officials said the tendering process was on for structural repairs to 15 bridges. On July 3, the pedestrian portion of the Gokhale bridge over the railway tracks in Andheri collapsed, a tragedy that claimed two lives. The bridge was subsequently closed for repairs, resulting in traffic chaos in the area. After the Gokhale bridge crash, civic representatives had asked for the audit report of the bridges to be presented without delay.



IBM staffer dies trying to board running Train


The software engineer trying to board the Karjat local at Dadar.



Mumbai: An IBM software engineer, headed for a trek with friends, lost his life while trying to board a running train at Dadar station on Sunday. Police said he slipped off the platform end before getting dragged for nearly 50 metres. For more than 24 hours after his death, his identity could not be established till two commuters found his cellphone on the platform. Police then joined the dots. Sudarshan Choudhury (31) had studied engineering from a college in Sangli and was to tie the knot in two months. “His parents are based out of Nagpur and he had moved here for work. He was the only child and his parents are inconsolable,” said a friend, Sandeep. Early on Sunday, Choudhury left from Malad, where he stayed as a paying guest, and boarded a train. At Dadar, he was to change from Western Railway to Central Railway, and travel to Karjat, where his friends had decided to meet up for the trek. Around 5.40am, Choudhury ran down the staircase of a foot over bridge as the Karjat train started moving. He did not want to miss it as his friends were to board that same local from other stations.


CCTV footage shows him trying to board but getting flung off and slipping down the end of platform 1. Commuters informed police, who found his body 50 metres away, partially stripped off clothes and belongings. Doctors at Sion Hospital pronounced him dead. Police had no lead to establish his identity. Meanwhile, Choudhury’s friends phoned him endlessly but there was no response. Later, two commuters found the phone on the platform at Dadar and handed it over to the Railway Protection Force (RPF) chowky. RPF presumed it had been dropped by a commuter in a hurry to go to work and kept it with them. When Choudhury’s friend rang, the constable informed him about the phone being found. The friend approached GRP to check if Choudhury had been involved in an accident. His parents were subsequently informed. Choudhury’s mother told TOI she and her husband travelled here on Monday to view CCTV footage at the chowky.



Swiggy, Zomato & other apps junk 10,500 ‘unsafe’ Eateries

The move was triggered by a series of complaints received by the regulator about sub-standard food being supplied by restaurants.



New Delhi: Leading e-commerce food delivery platforms like Zomato, Swiggy, UberEats and Food Panda have delisted 10,500 restaurants as they did not have the food safety regulator’s approval. The move comes after a strict directive was issued in July this year by the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) asking ecommerce sites to remove all unlicensed and non-registered restaurants from their listings by September 30. In a latest review of its order, FSSAI found that Zomato has delisted 2,500, Swiggy 4,000, Foodpanda 1,800, UberEats 2,000 partner hotels. Around 200 restaurants on other platforms too have been axed. “These food aggregators have been directed to share the list of delisted Hotels/Restaurants so that action can be initiated against the defaulters under the Food Act,” FSSAI said. It added, once the list is in place, it can be shared with state enforcement machinery for the action against noncompliant food business operators as per the provisions laid down under the food law. FSSAI’s order was triggered by a series of complaints received by the regulator about substandard food being supplied by restaurants. The food regulator had shared a checklist of compliance for hotels and restaurants with the e-commerce sites which they can refer for their internal food safety audits. Zomato and Swiggy have conducted internal food safety audits of some of their partner hotels and restaurants accordingly, the regulator said. According to a FSSAI official, the move is aimed at ensuring that all food operators including the aggregators are under the purview of the law. “It is also the responsibility of the aggregator to ensure that a hotel or a restaurant using its e-commerce platform is compliant to law. Further on in case of non-compliance, the liability is also of the e-commerce platform,” an official said.



Midnight raid leads cops to Arms factory



New Delhi: In the biggest arms bust of the year, the Special Cell of Delhi Police seized a cache of 82 pistols, 124 magazines and several live rounds on Monday night while also unearthing an arms factory located between Delhi and Meerut. Five gun manufacturers from Munger in Bihar were arrested. The kingpin has been identified as Mohammed Shaidullah (37). His associates are Naseem, Shabbir, Imtiaz and Obayed. The operation began around 10pm on Monday and went on till the early hours. Police commissioner Amulya Patnaik applauded the team for the breakthrough. “It was a well-executed operation,” he said. DCP (Special Cell) Sanjeev Kumar Yadav said that a special team, led by ACP Manoj Dixit, had been keeping extensive surveillance on gunrunners to curb the influx of weapons into the city. “On Monday, head constables Parvez and Sumer received information that two members of an illegal arms syndicate would be in Delhi with a cache of weapons. As per the informer, the criminals were to cross Singhu border near the Tikri traffic light on National Highway 1 between 11.30pm and 12.30am,” Yadav disclosed. Teams led by inspectors Vivekanand Pathak and Kuldeep Singh stood vigil at two spots on that stretch with road barricades to slow down the passing vehicles. Around 12.40am, the police spotted a silver Verna car approaching and flagged it down. The driver, however, stepped on the gas and tried to rush his car past the Z path created by the barricades.


When the police teams tried to intercept the vehicle, the driver, later identified as Shaidullah, whipped out a pistol and shot at the cops. When the policemen shot back, the driver appeared to panic and the Verna ground to a halt. The two occupants of the car fled on foot, but were chased and overpowered. “In the search on the car, we recovered 11 pistols from beneath the driver’s seat, while 52 others were recovered from a secret cavity that had been created in the boot of the car by covering the space for spare wheel with fibre sheet and sealed with nuts and bolts,” DCP Yadav revealed. The cops also found that the Verna was stolen from Kalkaji area and was being driven with a fake number plate. Alarmed by the sheer number of the pistols seized, the policemen interrogated the two men on the spot and got the suspects to divulge the details of their factory near Meerut where the weapons were being manufactured. A raid was conducted at the factory which is owned by one Mohammed Furqan, a resident of Meerut. On its premises, police arrested three other men, and recovered 19 more pistols along with raw materials such as springs, barrel, magazine length as well as the apparatus and instruments used in fabricating illegal firearms. Delhi Police informed on Tuesday that the cell has seized more than 600 weapons in the past year during its drive to stop the inflow of illegal arms in the capital.



9 die, 14 hurt in Bhilai plant blast


Raipur: Nine workers were killed and 14 critically injured in a pipeline blast at Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP) in Durg on Tuesday morning. All the injured have suffered 80% burns, and the death toll could rise. This is the third accident at the plant in eight weeks. “There were about 25 labourers working on the coke oven site at battery number 11 to repair a gas pipeline when there was a massive explosion around 10.30am. The bodies were flung across the accident site by the blast impact,” IG Durg range G P Singh told TOI, while confirming the death toll. The survivors have suffered over 80% burns and are in hospital, he added. Rescue operation was still underway to clear the area and check if there are any other bodies under the debris. Identification of the bodies is on but it will take some time as they were all burnt beyond recognition, say officials. Witnesses say the blaze that leapt severe metres into the air and smoke and toxic gases hampered the evacuation for several hours. Additional security has been deployed at the hospital where the injured have been admitted, and the plant as well. Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh condoled the deaths.



Cyclone Titli may trigger Heavy Rain on Thursday & Friday


Kolkata: Even as cyclone ‘Titli’ approached the Andhra-Odisha coast from west-central Bay of Bengal at a speed of 8 km/hr on Tuesday triggering the possibility of thundershowers in Kolkata and Gangetic Bengal on October 11and 12, the Met office had a word of hope for Puja revelers. Showers could cease by October 14 and the weather was set to improve once the cyclone moved away, said the Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC). It could start raining in Kolkata from Wednesday evening, though. On Tuesday, the deep depression moved west-northwestwards and intensified into a cyclone. It packs a greater punch than the last one — Cyclone Daye — that had fizzed out without much impact, said weathermen. “We expect thundershowers in Kolkata on October 11and 12. It could continue to drizzle on October 13 but the weather could improve after that. Once a big system like a tropical cyclone passes away, it sucks out all the moisture from the atmosphere, thereby reducing the chances of further rain. In case it leaves behind residual moisture, showers could continue. We will have a better idea on Thursday,” said RMC director GK Das.


On Tuesday morning, the cyclone was located about 860 km south-southwest of Kolkata, 530 km southeast of Gopalpur and 480 km east-southeast of Kalingapatnam. According to the RMC bulletin, it was likely to move west-northwestwards for some more time, then northwestwards and then cross Odisha and adjoining north Andhra Pradesh coasts between Gopalpur and Kalingapatnam on the morning of October 11. Heavy to very heavy showers are likely at one or two places in North and South 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hoogly, East and West Midnapore. The showers are likely to continue at these places till October 12. In the coastal areas and those close to them, wind speed could reach 45-55 km/hr and gust to 65 km/ hr along the coast of Bengal and Odisha. Wind speed along the coastal districts of Bengal and north Odisha could reach 75 km/hr on October 10 evening, according to a bulletin released by IMD. Sea condition will remain rough from October 9 to 12 and fishermen had been advised to return to coast by the night of October 8. Wind speed could reach 55-65 km/hr over the sea as Titli approaches. It could touch 75 km/hr over deep sea areas of central and adjoining north Bay of Bengal and gradually rise to 80-90 km/hr from Thursday. Tourists in Digha and the nearby beach resorts have been advised to stay away from the sea. Fishermen have been asked to stay back on the shore till October 13.



International tourists skip TN after faulty Red Alert



Chennai: The Met department’s red alert forecasting heavy rain which turned out to be a false alarm has cost the tourist sector heavily with hundreds of international travelers cancelling their scheduled trips to Tamil Nadu in October, the beginning of the peak season. Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) Tamil Nadu chapter chairman K Pandian said around 300 foreign visitors who booked tour packages have rescheduled their travel plans. “Travelers from various countries including the US and UK were scheduled to visit in eight different groups for up to two weeks. Following the red alert, the tourists chose to fly to a different country,” he said. Each tourist would have spent at least 1000 US dollars during their stay, which includes accommodation, food and transport. “It is a huge loss. The state is getting only 50% of the foreign tourists this October compared to the same period in 2017,” Pandian added. After issuing a red alert on October 7 warning of heavy to very heavy rain, the IMD withdrew it, saying the low pressure in the Arabian Sea had not gained strength. But it had already triggered panic among a section of international travelers, leading to a slew of cancellations. Sriharan Balan, chairman Travel Agents Association of India, Southern Region, said tour operators in the state handle almost 20,000 foreign visitors in October, largely from European countries.


“But the unexpected red alert has caused severe damage, with nearly 1000 of them having cancelled their scheduled trips and about 50% making inquiries to postpone their visit. We are attempting to convince the rest by sending live videos of the current ground situation,” he said. Sources said they were passing on the discounts accrued through appreciation of the dollar against the rupee, traditional gift items and shopping coupons for those re-confirming their tour programmes. Sharat Dhall, COO (B2C),, said, “In light of the red alert issued and withdrawn by the Met department for Tamil Nadu, we have witnessed a hike in inquiries during the last couple of days with travelers seeking to reschedule their tickets. The impact of heavy rainfall in these areas was a matter of concern last month itself, making travelers extra cautious while booking their tickets.” However, as the festive season hits the market, an immediate rebound is expected in terms of bookings being made to various destinations in the state, he added. However, Karan Anand, head relationships, Cox & Kings Ltd, said, “There have not been any cancellations for us as we update our guests on a real-time basis. Tourists travelling to India normally visit more than one state and so if there is an issue at some place, they carry on with the other leg of the tour”.



International News



Next task for Robocars: Developing intuition


Boston: Relative to human motorists, the driverless vehicles now undergoing testing on public roads are overly cautious, maddeningly slow, and prone to abrupt halts or bizarre paralysis caused by bikers, joggers, crosswalks or anything else that doesn’t fit within the neat confines of binary robot brains. Self-driving companies are well aware of the problem, but there’s not much they can do at this point. If driverless cars can’t be safely programmed to mimic risk taking human drivers, perhaps they can be taught to better understand the way humans act. That’s the goal of Perceptive Automata, a Boston-based startup applying research techniques from neuroscience and psychology to give automated vehicles more humanlike intuition on the road. “We see a lot of AI companies working on more classical problems, like object detection [or] object classification,” Ann Cheng, a senior investment manager at Hyundai Cradle said. “Perceptive is trying to go one layer deeper — what we do intuitively already”. This predictive aspect of self-driving tech “was either misunderstood or completely underestimated” in the early stages of autonomous development, said Jim Adler, the managing director of Toyota AI Ventures. With Alphabet Inc’s Waymo planning to roll out an autonomous taxi service to paying customers in the Phoenix area later this year, and General Motor Co’s driverless unit racing to deploy a ride-hailing business in 2019, the shortcomings of robot cars interacting with humans are coming under increased scrutiny.


But no one believes that will be enough to make autonomous cars move seamlessly among human drivers. For that, the car needs to be able to decipher intent by reading body language and social norms. Perceptive Automata is trying to teach machines to predict human behaviour by modeling how humans do it. Sam Anthony, chief technology officer at Perceptive, developed a way to take image recognition tests used in psychology and use them to train neural networks, a kind of machine learning based on how the human brain works. Perceptive has found it’s important to incorporate regional differences, since jaywalking is commonplace in New York City and non-existent elsewhere. “These social norms of how our culture will evolve and how different cultures will evolve with this tech is incredibly fascinating and also incredibly complex”. Even if Perceptive proves capable of doing what it claims, Mike Ramsey, an analyst, said it may also surface fresh ethical questions about outsourcing life or death decisions to machines. Because the startup is going beyond object identification to mimicking human intuition, it could be liable for programming the wrong decision if an error occurs.

News Flash – 9 October 2018

National News



Loco runs into buffer at LTT, derails and damages pipeline

GOING TOO FAR: The damage at LTT after the accident involving the Pawan Express at 4am on Monday.



Mumbai: A long-distance train engine rammed into the buffer on a platform at Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) on Monday morning. No one was injured. The locomotive of the Pawan Express was derailed by the impact and while train operations were not hit, a pipeline was damaged and much water was wasted. “The reason behind the accident will be known only after the inquiry is completed,” CR chief PRO Sunil Udasi said. The locomotive pilot, S K Chaturvedi, was not under the influence of alcohol, showed tests. Sources said he had handled mail and express trains for eight years. “We will ascertain the speed of the train based on the log and video recordings available from the CCTV footage,” an officer said. The incident happened at 4 am and it took four hours to re-rail the locomotive. After a similar accident involving an electrical multiple unit (EMU) at Churchgate in June 2015, the railways had installed auxiliary warning system at platforms that handle EMUs.



Climate change report pushes for new global warming target


New Delhi: The special report on global warming by a UN body has set the tone for the upcoming climate conference in Poland where countries will now have to make efforts to align their pledges with the 1.5-degree Celsius goal—a more stringent target than the existing agreement to limit average temperature rise within 2 degrees Celsius by 2100. The report of the UN’s Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released at Incheon in South Korea on Monday, clearly shows how half a degree of warming makes a big difference, adversely impacting global population and overall ecosystem through intense heat waves, sea level rise, melting of Arctic ice, erratic rainfall, reduction of farm yield and vanishing of living species. In fact, limiting warming to 1.5 degree Celsius rather than 2 degrees Celsius could result in 420 million fewer people being exposed to severe heatwaves, says the report. The report claims it’s possible to meet the new warming target, provided countries make “rapid and far reaching” transitions over the next 10 to 20 years in land use, energy, industry, transport to cut emissions and reach ‘net zero’ by 2050 —25 years earlier than what they planned under the 2-degree Celsius goal.


India and many other countries are already facing impact of 1 degree Celsius of global warming. It’s therefore important for all the nations to make efforts towards limiting the warming. It’s scientifically possible to do that. India has already taken several actions in the direction,” ministry of earth sciences secretary M Rajeevan told TOI. The report says the world will need annual average investment of $2.4 trillion between 2016 and 2035 (which is 2.5% of present world GDP) in energy system alone to limit the global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius. Interestingly, it also talks about changes in lifestyles to enhance mitigation and adaptation options, the point India has consistently been flagging after getting it inserted in the preamble of the Paris Agreement. “The new report from the IPCC has served as a final warning that we must get our act together — now and quickly,” said Sunita Narain, director general of the Centre for Science Environment (CSE), while asking the global communities to build a coalition to support the massive transformation required to achieve the 1.5-degree target. The IPCC’s report was accepted by all countries, including India. Though the US, which moved to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, too accepted the report, it has not endorsed it.



“By refusing to endorse the findings of the IPCC’s 1.5-degree Celsius report, the US has again given a clear signal that it would continue with its climate regressive agenda, which includes obstructing the work of the UNFCCC and promoting fossil fuels like coal and gas,” said Chandra Bhushan, deputy DG of the CSE. Since the report examines pathways available to limit warming to 1.5 degree Celsius and what it would take to achieve them and what the consequences could be, it will be a key scientific input at the Katowice Climate Change Conference (COP24) in Poland in December, when governments review the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change. The Paris Agreement, adopted by 195 nations at COP21 in December 2015, included the aim of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change by “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degree Celsius above pre -industrial levels.” The reference period 1850-1900 is used to approximate pre-industrial levels.



Flouting helmet, seat belt rules killed 65,000 Indians last year



New Delhi: At least 98 two-wheeler riders without helmets died daily in 2017, while 79 car occupants lost their lives every day in accidents because they were not wearing seatbelts, the latest Road Accident Report has revealed. Mobile phone use when driving claimed about nine lives a day last year. While the report, based on data provided by state police and transport departments and released on Monday, shows a slight dip in fatalities— from nearly 1.51 lakh in 2016 to about 1.48 lakh in 2017—there has been a steep increase in the number of people dying because of failure to use safety gear or devices. For example, fatalities caused because of not wearing helmets rose to 36,000 in 2017 as against 10,135 in 2016. Tamil Nadu saw the highest number of deaths at 5,211, followed by UP (4,406) and MP (3,183). About 42% of the dead (in the two-wheeler category) were pillion riders. Gujarat was the only state to report more pillion riders without helmets dying as compared to helmetless drivers of two-wheelers getting killed. In cases where not wearing seat belts resulted in fatalities, Karnataka had the maximum — 4,035 dead — followed by Tamil Nadu with 3,497 and UP with 2,897 deaths.


Uttar Pradesh (1,512) saw the maximum number of deaths of drivers using mobiles phones while driving. Maharashtra was second worst with 282 deaths and Odisha reported 257 deaths. Delhi reported only three fatalities in this category. Road safety experts said the big jump in these figures is primarily due to the increased focus on identifying the exact causes of road deaths in the past two years; 2017 was the second year that the government captured deaths caused due to these three traffic violations. According to the report, nearly 67% of road deaths were due to speeding. The data also show that 22,428 people were killed in hit-and-run cases across the country and drunk driving claimed 4,776 lives last year. Failure to use safety devices, use of mobile phones, speeding and drunk driving have been identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the main reasons for the rise in road deaths across the globe.



Woman saves many from Gurgaon Highrise fire, but dies as locked gate traps her


Gurgaon: Swati Garg, a 32-year-old interior designer, saved many lives in a highrise tower at Tulip Orange on Sunday, knocking on doors of flats to alert other residents to a fire that had started in the stairwell just after 2am. Thanks to her, almost everyone escaped to safety, to the building’s upper floors. But Swati couldn’t. Firefighters found her dead two hours later, next to the gate leading to the 10th-floor terrace, five floors above her flat. The gate was locked, trapping Swati in a stairwell filled with thick smoke. Unable to call out for help or climb down, Swati Garg choked and collapsed next to a locked gate leading to a terrace. Firefighters found hand prints on the wall next to the gate, indicating Swati’s struggle to find a way out, before she lost consciousness and died of asphyxiation. It took almost 45 minutes for firefighters to reach the tower — a fear residents of new sectors had repeatedly expressed. Since the Haryana government is yet to build fire stations in Gurgaon’s new sectors, the nearest one at Sector 29, near Huda City Centre metro station, is 12km away.



The fire brigade received a call at 2.28am and reached Tulip Orange only at 3.10am. For a full hour, residents had to fend for themselves, along with Tulip’s facility management. Police commissioner KK Rao said a case under section 304 (culpable homicide) had been filed at Badshahpur police station against the developer Tulip Infrastructure and its maintenance agency. There are 36 flats in the tower where the fire started — four on each floor. The society has 11towers (around 500 flats). Police said the fire was caused due to a short circuit in an electricity meter on the first floor. The flames rose to the tenth floor within minutes, but remained contained to the electricity shaft of the stairwell. The stairwell is the building’s only fire exit. Swati’s mother (58) — who had recently come to live with the Gargs to help her settle into a new job — is among two people who were rushed to hospital and are being treated for burn injuries. The Garg family was among the first to react to the blaze, which started around 2.15am. They feared the electrical panel next to their flat (501) would catch fire and decided to look for a safer place — Swati woke up others on the fifth floor, her husband Girish took their four-year-old daughter, Swati’s mother and a friend who was visiting out of the flat. But in the swirling smoke and darkness, as power supply snapped, Girish and Swati lost track of each other.


“When we first got out of the flat, there was smoke all around,” Girish, a Honeywell employee, said. “We first tried to go downstairs but could not go beyond the third floor. We returned to our flat because we were suffocating,” he added. Then, wrapping themselves in wet towels, they went towards the upper floors. “By the time we reached the eighth floor, I was struggling to breathe. The door of one of the flats there was open and I got in with my daughter,” Garg said, adding there was so much smoke that he lost track of Swati and his mother-in-law. “Tulip Infrastructure, Apple (facility management company) and its managers, and officials of DTCP who gave approval are responsible for the fire and death of my wife and action should be taken against all of them,” Garg said in his complaint. Swati’s body was taken to Shivpuri in Madhya Pradesh, where she was from. Neighbour and friend Monica Singh said it was because of Swati that, within minutes, everybody on their floor had started climbing towards the terrace to escape the fire. On their way up, Swati and the others also alerted other residents. “We ran into the flats on the eighth floor for shelter and rushed to the balconies for fresh air,” said Singh. Lalita Soni, who lives in the flat opposite the Gargs’, added, “We thought Swati might have rushed to the terrace.


While taking the stairs, she seemed in a lot of discomfort.” Police said Swati appeared to have headed upstairs to open the door of the terrace to allow the smoke to go out. But no one had any idea where Swati was till the firefighters found her. “I cannot imagine what she suffered,” Girish said. Swati worked with an interior designing firm in DLF 2. Soni said she heard many women shouting and asking to be rescued. “My husband was to fly to the US and was on his flight. I called him saying he might never see me again. He de-boarded and rushed back home,” said Singh, adding that her husband ended up facing an FIR for getting off a plane that was about to depart. Singh said people had even thought of jumping from balconies to save themselves from the fire. Praveen Jain, managing director of Tulip Infratech, said it was “very unfortunate that one of our residents lost her life” but denied allegations of residents that firefighting equipment like extinguishers were not working. “At Tulip Infratech, we always ensure all precautions are taken. All Tulip buildings have necessary approvals and NOCs,” he said.



488 Dengue cases in a week, 169 from Delhi



New Delhi: In the past one week, 488 cases of dengue, 77 cases of malaria and 68 cases of chikungunya were reported in the capital. According to the latest report of the municipal corporations, of the 488 cases of dengue, 169 were reported in Delhi and the remaining was from the other states. This year, over 1,600 cases of dengue have been reported, of which 650 were from across the city along with 700 cases of malaria. Senior officials claimed that they have been regularly monitoring the major breeding grounds and notices have been issued to the violators. The report said that domestic breeding checkers found mosquito breeding in 1,92,928 households across the city till October 6. It said 1,58,067 legal notices have been served for various violations, and “22,240 prosecutions initiated”. As a pro-active measure, lieutenant governor Anil Baijal had a few months ago directed the local bodies and other agencies to intensify vector-control measures. He had also asked for regular meetings at the level of district magistrates with all stakeholders to review the situation in their respective districts. Report from the public health department also highlights the sudden spike in cases of positive mosquito breeding being discovered at houses by corporation’s domestic breeding checkers.



KIA to merge security lines for men, women



Bengaluru: Come March, security queues at the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) won’t be segregated as per gender. Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) will introduce smart security lanes where men and women passengers will no longer need to be screened at different locations. “For the first time in India, men and women needn’t be security screened at different locations as passengers travelling with family will be screened together,” BIAL said on Monday. BIAL, which operates KIA, has signed an agreement with UK-based Macdonald Humfrey (Automation) India Pvt. Ltd. to introduce smart security lanes-cum-automated tray retrieval system (ATRS). Once fully operational, the passenger screening capacity is expected to be increased by over 50%. The smart lanes with ATRS will automatically return empty trays to the preparation area for passengers to place their bags and belongings, ending the hassle of looking for trays and also preventing empty ones from piling up. The automated rollers will enable the trays to automatically move into the screening machine, without passengers or staff having to push them in.


The automated lanes will be installed in the domestic and international checkpoints by the year-end. “Replacement of existing manual lanes will be undertaken in a phased manner to ensure minimal disruption to airport operations. The project will be completed by March 2019,” the release said. “This advanced technology will bring down waiting time for passengers at security checkpoint and improve passenger experience,” said a statement from BIAL. “The new system will accelerate the process of human and carry-on luggage screening by reducing waiting time and congestion, offering an easy and efficient travel experience for passengers,” it added. “With the smart security lane, we can process more passengers in a secure and controlled environment, improving overall operational efficiency and enhancing safety and security,” said Javed Malik, COO, BIAL. “Having installed similar solutions in many European, West Asian, North America and south-east Asian airports, Macdonald Humfrey has the expertise to implement this project at the Bengaluru airport, and will play a huge role in reshaping aviation security in India,” said Mick Macdonald, president Macdonald Humfrey (Automation) Ltd.



37 new Swine flu cases in week, hospitals to prepare isolation wards


Hyderabad: With 37 new cases of H1N1 (swine flu) being detected in first week of October a huge jump from one or two cases being detected in a month the state health department has issued a memo asking health facilities to look into ‘preparedness and effective management’ of swine flu cases. Hospital superintendents in district hospitals have been asked to keep isolation wards ready, inspect them, ensure proper upkeep and put in place satisfactory arrangements, in anticipation of further increase in swine flu cases. On Monday alone, nine new cases of H1N1 were detected. “In view of the transmission season and increasing trend of H1N1 cases in the state, there is every need to maintain strict vigil and close monitoring to contain the spread of the disease in the state,” read the memo. The memo also specified a treatment protocol and bracketed patients, with symptoms, into three categories for the purpose. In case of patients who report mild fever with cough or sore throat (category A), authorities have suggested that they be confined to their homes for 48 hours and put through monitoring. Testing has not been recommended for such patients.


For category B patients, who have cough or sore throat with high grade fever and are in high-risk category (such as pregnant women, children, elderly and patients with co-morbid conditions), the memo recommended the need for home isolation and treatment with oseltamivir (medicine for swine flu). Patients who have all the symptoms of the first two categories along with breathlessness, chest pain, drowsiness, fall in blood pressure, sputum mixed with blood, bluish discoloration of nails are defined as ‘red flag’ signals. It also made H1N1 test mandatory for children with severe influenza like symptoms, and recommended immediate hospitalization and treatment with oseltamivir and broad spectrum antibiotics. In case of patients with co-morbid conditions (diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, undergone any organ transplantation), immediate shifting to Gandhi Hospital and Niloufer Hospital for Paediatrics cases has been ordered. “The staff is adequately trained and other requisite equipment and treatment facilities have been kept ready at these hospitals,” said the internal advisory to all health facilities in the state.



Cyclone may hit coastal Andhra Pradesh



Visakhapatnam: A cyclone is expected to hit the coastal parts of north-coastal Andhra Pradesh on Thursday, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD). The cyclone has been named ‘Titli’ and is predicted to be of a strength that could be fatal to people and property. This will be the second cyclonic storm in the Bay of Bengal this year. The first cyclone, called the ‘Daye’, hit Odisha last month. According to the present track of the weather system, it was identified as a ‘‘depression”, or a lower grade of the cyclone, on Monday over the Bay of Bengal. The depression could intensify into a cyclone on Wednesday, and hit the coast on Thursday, the IMD said. Fishermen were advised not to venture into the sea till further instructions from the IMD.



Cyclone, rain may ruin early birds’ Puja plans


Kolkata: The run-up to Durga Puja could be marred by a prolonged rainy spell triggered by an approaching cyclone, warned the Met office on Monday. A deep depression brewing over southeast Bay of Bengal and adjoining north Andaman Sea is likely to intensify into a cyclone by October 10. It could hit the Andhra-Odisha coast on the morning of October 11, leading to heavy showers in Kolkata and south Bengal on October 12 and 13. While the rain could weaken after that, possibility of sporadic showers during the pujas is not being ruled out. “Over the next 24 hours, the depression will turn into a deep depression. By October 10, it will turn into a cyclone and approach the east coast, hitting land somewhere between Odisha and Andhra. The impact on the coastal districts of Bengal and Gangetic Bengal, including Kolkata, will be substantial. We expect heavy rain in the city on October 12 and 13. Drizzles are likely on October 14 but it’s still too early to predict if the showers will continue during the Pujas,” said Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC) director G K Das. Kolkata could start receiving drizzles from Wednesday evening, hours before the cyclone hits land. Rain is set to intensify along the coastal districts and Kolkata during the next three days. The cyclone, which is yet to be named, was stationed 950kms south of Kolkata in the east-central Bay of Bengal, 720km south-southeast of Gopalpur and 690kms southeast of Kalingapatnam.


Wind speed along the coastal districts of Bengal and north Odisha could reach 75km/hr on October 10 evening, according to a bulletin released by IMD. Sea condition will remain rough from October 9 to 12 and fishermen have been advised to return to coast by the night of October 8. “Rain could be heavy to very heavy on the last two days. Once the system hits land and weakens, the impact could start dwindling. Generally, once a big system moves away, the weather tends to be clear. But it remains to be seen how much moisture is left behind. Depending on that, sporadic showers could continue on October 14 and the next few days. We will have a better idea on Wednesday,” added Das. The advancing cyclone has kept Puja revelers worried. Amid the impending gloom, the Met office also had a glimmer of hope for pandal hoppers. “There is nothing yet to suggest that the rain will continue beyond October 14. A big system like a cyclone sucks out moisture from the atmosphere, leaving the conditions dry. Only if there is residual moisture after the cyclone passes away that Kolkata could receive rain during the pujas,” added the scientist.



108 ambulance service number down for 2 hours



Chennai: People seeking emergency medical services on Monday afternoon were in for a shock on finding that the ‘108’ ambulance service number was down for a couple of hours. A technical snag at the Anna Road telephone exchange of BSNL Chennai Telephones led to the disruption in services. An official spokesperson of the ‘108’ ambulance services said operations were temporarily affected for two hours before being restored at around 3.45pm. “All district managers and emergency management executives were alerted and the ambulances were advised to collaborate with nearby primary health centres and hospitals. We requested that the police control room number ‘100′ be used instead,” he said. A temporary alternative number, 40170100, was made available and flashed on TV channels and FM radio even as a team of software engineers from BSNL was roped in to resolve the issue, the spokesperson added. BSNL Chennai Telephones said the control card of the Anna Road power plant was affected due to a technical snag that resulted in 20,000 connections of the Anna Road telephone exchange being hit. “After attending to the fault on a war footing, the exchange was restored at about 5.30pm. However, connectivity to the ‘108’ service was restored within two hours of the fault being reported by rerouting all calls through Mambalam telephone exchange,” BSNL spokesperson Vijaya said. The issue relating to the emergency services number came to BSNL’s notice at around noon following complaints, she said, adding, “The problem with the ‘108’ number was resolved by 2.30pm”.



International News



Italy threatens to shut airports to block “Germany’s asylum rejects”



Rome: Italy’s far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini threatened on Sunday to shut the country’s airports after media reported that Germany planned to send charter flights of rejected asylum-seekers to Italy. “If someone in Berlin or Brussels thinks of dropping dozens of migrants via non-authorised charter flights in Italy, they should know that there is not and there will be no airport available,” Salvini tweeted. “We will close the airports like we closed our ports,” he added in reference to Italy’s decision this summer to ban migrant rescue boats from entering its harbours. His comments came after German news agency DPA reported on Sunday that Berlin intended to start returning rejected asylum-seekers to Italy via chartered flights. The first flight was due to leave on Monday, with another scheduled for October 17, according to DPA. The migrants were mainly Nigerians who had entered the European Union via Italy, the agency said. Similarly, Italian newspaper La Republica reported on Saturday that Germany’s federal migration office was sending letters to asylum-seekers, warning them of their “imminent” return to Italy under the so-called Dublin rules. That controversial regulation assigns responsibility for migrants to the nation of first entry. However, Germany’s interior ministry told DPA later Sunday that “no deportations (of migrants) to Italy are planned in the coming days”. Immigration remains a hot-button issue among European Union members despite a major drop in arrivals following the 2015 peak of the continent’s migration crisis.

News Flash – 6 October 2018

National News



GRP Constable & Home Guard waylay man and rob him, held



Thane: A Government Railway Police (GRP) constable and a home guard were arrested for allegedly kidnapping and robbing a man from Ratnagiri resident of his gold jewellery. On Thursday, Sanjay Nalavade (42) of Bavdegaon in Khed, Ratnagiri, reached Thane station to meet a relative. “As soon as he alighted from the train, he went to a public toilet,” said a police officer. “Subash Nagre (25) of GRP (Thane) and home guard Bushan More (28), who identified themselves as policemen, waylaid Nalavade. Holding up a pair of handcuffs, they threatened to arrest him for obscene behaviour. They abused him and threatened to inform his family about his behaviour”. Nagre and More then dragged Nalavade to Kalwa police outpost and threatened to file a criminal case against him. They allegedly told him that they would let him go if he paid them Rs 60,000, but if he didn’t pay up, they would put him in lockup or even bump him off, the officer said. Nagre and More then snatched Nalavade’s jewellery and Rs 35,000 from his wallet. When they asked him what would he tell his family, Nalavade replied that he would say he was robbed. They warned him against it and said he would then have to file a complaint, the officer said. After the duo let him go, Nalavade immediately went to the Thane Nagar police station and filed a case under sections 394, 363, 342, 504, 506 (read with 34) of the Indian Penal Code. In June, constable Dipak Vairagad attached to Vartak Nagar police station, and his aides were arrested in a similar kidnap and extortion case after allegedly laying a honey trap for a youngster from Nandurbar. The police were tight-lipped about the incident.



WR can soon rush help to exact spot of distress call


Mumbai: Passenger security can soon be ensured with greater efficiency on the railways. About to be launched is a GPS-based technology to track the exact location of a complainant so that assistance can be provided more efficiently after a distress call is received on the toll-free helpline number 182. “We have carried out Geofencing of the entire route in our zone and trials are underway. The system has been rolled out in all zones,” said WR’s chief public relations officer Ravinder Bhakar. In the present system, if a person calls from, say, Dadar station (WR), the RPF control room has an indication that the complainant is in its territory. But his exact location is not known. In the new system, the exact location of a complainant can be known.



ACB raids Spark Panic: Cash, Gold thrown out of windows



Bengaluru: The doorbell rang at 6am in TR Swamy’s flat on the 14th floor of Mantri Greens. The chief development officer (land acquisition) at Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board (KIADB) thought it was the milkman or the newspaper vendor. He opened the door, then slammed it shut immediately when he saw men in khaki standing outside. With an office in Khanija Bhavan on Race Course Road, where the ACB offices are also located, Swamy was aware of the agency’s standard operating procedure. There was high drama — including the public spectacle of discarded cash flying out of a ventilator — around the apartment complex for the next 45 minutes. Swamy and his family wrapped notes of Rs 2,000 denomination in large polythene bags and threw them out of a bathroom ventilator, investigators said. Swamy then summoned a confidant, an auto driver, to help him dispose of incriminating evidence, they said. ACB sleuths caught him just as he was making away with the bags in a three-wheeler. “We knew that Swamy would try to make the cash vanish,” a senior officer said. “He did not open the door for more than 50 minutes.


He finally relented when we told him that we would break open the door with police. We knew that inside the flat, the occupants were frantically trying to get rid of evidence. The auto driver had arrived by then, so it was clear what Swamy had in mind”. When the ACB sleuths raided the Mantri Greens flat of Swamy’s elder sister, she threw gold and other valuables out of a window of the 15th floor apartment. “She wrapped some valuables in clothes and also placed some in a leather bag,” an investigating officer said. “She claimed that she had purchased the valuables legally and that the sight of the ACB officers rattled her so she hurled them out of her flat. If she produces the bills and relevant documents, we will return the ornaments”. The bundles landed on the ground floor and her brother’s confidant loaded it in an auto rickshaw but ACB sleuths confiscated the vehicle with the valuables. The raids triggered a similar reaction at Gowdaiah’s residence, where family members refused to open the door. “They saw us through peephole in the door and refused to open the door, claiming that we were not ACB officers,” another officer said. “They opened the door only after we warned that we would enter by force”.



Heavy Rain forecast for next 3 days, Kerala on High Alert

COURSE CORRECTION: A group of fire and rescue personnel from Kozhikode, Kannur, Kasaragod, Malappuram and Wayanad learnt sea rescue tactics from fishermen from Kozhikode on Friday.



Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government is on high alert in view of the possibility of heavy to extremely heavy rain in the state for the next three days under the influence of a low-pressure area over the southeast Arabian sea. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast heavy rains in the state on Saturday and extremely heavy rains on Sunday. While Pathanamthitta, Idukki, Palakkad, Malappuram and Wayanad districts will be on orange alert on Saturday, a red alert has been issued for Idukki and Malappuram districts on Sunday. Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said five teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) would be deployed in Wayanad, Palakkad, Idukki, Pathanamthitta and Kozhikode. On Friday, shutters of over 20 dams were opened to release water in view of the IMD forecast. While fishermen have been asked not to venture into the sea for the next few days, tourists too have been advised not to travel to hill stations.



Dengue claims yet another life



Kolkata: A 63-year-old woman from Manikpur in Dum Dum died of dengue at a private hospital in Salt Lake on October 2. Anima Majumdar, the victim, had tested positive in an NS1 test and was admitted to hospital on October 1. She died at 5.20 the next evening. The death certificate mentioned haemorrhagic shock and the multi-organ failure as the causes of death. This is the 11th dengue death in Kolkata this season. Even though dengue had started spreading from the northern fringes of Kolkata this time, it has subsequently affected Behala, east Kolkata and parts of central Kolkata. Several victims have died very quickly, often giving doctors little time to revive them. Rinki Ghosh, 36, a resident of Baguihati was the first victim this year. According to hospital sources, Anima had been admitted in a very critical state and could not be revived. Her vital parameters kept worsening till she went into a shock and suffered a multi-organ failure.


Even though casualties have so far been lower than last year, the virus remains potent, according to consultant Arindam Biswas. “Dengue hasn’t been spreading as fast as it did last year, but deaths have occurred very quickly. The symptoms have been very strong, often leaving no time to revive patients. Secondary bacterial infections could be a reason,” said Biswas. He added that NS1 tests should be done immediately without waiting for symptoms to show up. “But the virus often doesn’t show up in the first day of fever. So, a 24-hour wait is a reasonable one,” Biswas said. More than 700 tested positive for dengue between January and August. The number of patients spiraled from August when deaths started happening. Unlike previous years, most victims have been children or middle-aged. “This year, we have seen a growing number of young patients succumbing to the virus. This probably suggests a potent strain but we can’t be sure unless the strains are examined and analysed,” said a south Kolkata doctor.



Put CCTV, Panic button in all School Vehicles


Kolkata: The Howrah City police on Friday directed all pooled cars and buses ferrying school students to install CCTV cameras in their vehicles and panic buttons that kids can press in distress. This comes a day after a Class-VI girl was allegedly raped by the pooled car driver and cleaner. The cops have also demanded details of all the cars and buses ferrying students. “We have asked all schools to provide us with detailed lists of cars and buses ferrying students. We are preparing advisory for operators, schools, students and their parents. After the Puja, we will meet all the school authorities to ensure the rules are implemented.” said deputy commissioner (headquarters) of Howrah City Police Ranendranath Banerjee. In Kolkata, the police are supposed to carry out background check of pooled car and school bus crews and bar vehicles that don’t meet basic fitness measures from ferrying kids. The instructions issued about six months ago after consultations with transport department state only drivers and helpers whose antecedents have been verified should take the driver’s seat. As a thumb rule, rickety vehicles and drivers without a valid licence were not allowed to ferry students. “While CCTV cameras in the vehicles should be ideal, we want the pooled car association to start a GPS tracking system, especially in cars for lower-primary students,” said an officer.


Citing an example of a vehicle ferrying students being confiscated by the Jadavpur traffic guard at the Sukanta Setu-Raja SC Mullick Road crossing, the police said they had taken action against a dozen such vehicles across Kolkata. “The pooled car association has always extended a helping hand and supported our move to ensure security of students,” claimed a Lalbazar officer overseeing the crackdowns. However, several cops at the different police stations and traffic guards that TOI spoke to claimed vigilance was not always tight. They cited two reasons: punctuality of pooled cars being of vital importance, the vehicles were hardly stopped unless there was a specific complaint and secondly, the crackdown drive had to follow certain mandates laid down by the SC and that was not possible without the transport department joining in. Pool Car Operators’ Welfare Association general secretary Arupam Dutta said, “We depend on the referral system before appointing a driver and cleaner. We understand the gravity and sensitivity of such cases. But such criminal acts shatter the faith the parents’ faith. We want to appoint woman attendants on all school vehicles but there is a demand-supply issue”.



Two Dengue cases in Mambalam put civic body on Alert

ACTION TIME: Conservancy workers cleared garbage and stagnated water, in which dengue-causing mosquitoes breed (right), in West Mambalam on Friday.



Chennai: Two dengue cases have been reported in Chennai this week putting Greater Chennai Corporation on high alert. After the second case detected in West Mambalam, workers were deployed to carry out cleanliness and source reduction activities in the neighbourhood on a war footing. Sources said the first case in West Mambalam was detected earlier this week when a person from Kerala returned to the city and got high fever. He tested positive for dengue at a primary health centre run by the civic body. On Friday, a 45-year-old man from the same locality in West Mambalam tested positive for dengue after being admitted to Sri Ramachandra Medical College. Following this, conservancy workers, a sanitary inspector and the zonal health officer visited the street where the dengue cases were reported. “Tyres, coconut shells, plastic containers, and other items capable of holding rainwater were destroyed,” said a worker. Stagnant fresh water is the source of dengue-causing aedes mosquitoes.


Balu, a resident, said while conservancy workers are expected to work every other day, they turn up only once in three days. “Today the workers came and cleared all the garbage lying in several spots. All tubs and buckets holding water where mosquitoes had started to breed were removed. Why do officials have to wait for a dengue case to be reported instead of taking preventive action,” he asked. Balu said spraying of larvicide and fogging should be carried out at least four times a month. A health official from the zone confirmed the dengue case and said preventive measures were being taken across the zone. “The Kodambakkam zone is divided into 151 sectors. All health workers and sanitary inspectors are instructed to carry out source reduction activities in at least 80 houses. Work to prevent water stagnation and spraying of mosquito larvicidal oil is happening across the zone,” said the official.



4 Metro Stations go Solar, to cut costs by Rs.6 Lakhs


Chennai: From lights to air-conditioners and even trains, everything at four underground metro stations will now be operated on solar power. Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) has commissioned a 103kWp (kilowattpeak) capacity rooftop solar power system to cater to these stations. The photovoltaic panels have begun generating power at Thirumangalam, Anna Nagar Tower, Anna Nagar East and Shenoy Nagar stations. Through the panels, CMRL will tap around 13,800 units of power every month, and hopes to save Rs.6.3 lakhs a year in power costs. By the end of this year, elevated metro stations too will go green, as another 6MW capacity rooftop solar power plant will be installed. “We have a total installed solar capacity of 1.6MW. Solar power will meet all our technical demand for daily operations in the stations they have been installed,” a metro rail official said. CMRL began using clean energy in 2016, when it installed a 1MW capacity solar panel at its administrative building in Koyambedu. Around 5,000 units generated a day from the 1MW grid power the administrative office and for maintenance of trains at the depot.


In September 2018, another 350kWp capacity panels were added in the depot. With another 125KW capacity added in the car park area of its headquarters at Koyambedu, CMRL has been getting more than 1.35 lakh units of solar power every month, saving nearly Rs.22 lakhs a year on power charges. Besides, CMRL has started installation of panels at the entry points of both underground and elevated stations to power their lighting systems and electrical appliances used for daily operations. Last year, CMRL signed a contract with a Mumbai based company to install solar panels with a capacity of 6MW at all its existing elevated stations. CMRL identified about 25 locations spread over more than 1.4 lakh sqm, including those in Koyambedu and Alandur for the purpose. With the project ready, CMRL expects 90% of its annual power requirement to be met by solar energy. The remaining energy requirement will be drawn from the general grid.



International News



Storytellers give kids in Quake-Hit Indonesia a reason to smile



Palu: “Concentrate! Concentrate now!” shouts Mahmud in a high-pitched voice, prompting giggles from the 40 rapt kids staring up at him. He and his friend Muhammad Ayub, decked out in bright orange vests, are volunteers who travelled hundreds of kilometres to the quake-and-tsunami-ravaged Indonesian seaside city of Palu from the island of Lombok — which this summer was itself pummeled by a series of deadly quakes. The pair are not medics or engineers but storytellers, trying to brighten up the lives of children thrown into a world that even adults struggle to comprehend. Over 1,500 people have so far been confirmed dead since last week’s double disaster, with tens of thousands forced out of their homes and into evacuation centres. “We want to build up their spirits after the tsunami, there is a lot of trauma,” said 30-year-old Ayub. “It’s great, we are having fun here,” said 13-year-old Fatir, who exclaims “no way!” when asked if living a tented camp in a car park — with only a tarp and trees for shade — is difficult. It is for all intents and purposes a camp for the displaced, but as they run about, play badminton or kick a football around, the kids can forget about what has happened to them, if only for a moment. There are cheers and hands shoot into the air as Mahmud, who only gave his first name, starts another story under the trees nearby. Some in Palu desperately need medicine, some need a shelter over their heads — but others just need a good giggle. Save the Children say that some 600,000 children have been affected by the quake, with many separated from their families and sleeping among ruins in Palu.



This Suit can make you fly like Iron Man


London: Richard Browning (left), chief test pilot and CEO of Gravity Industries, wears a Jet Suit and flies during a demonstration in Woodbridge, Britain, on Friday. The creator of the jet engine-powered suit that allows people to take flight, said he would launch a racing series next year to glide over water. The suit, which has a record speed of 51km per hour, is made up of five miniature jet engines mounted on the pilot’s arms and back and is reminiscent of the one worn by Robert Downey Jr in ‘Iron Man’ trilogy.

News Flash – 5 October 2018

National News



High Alert in Tamil Nadu & Kerala braces for more Rain

NDRF TEAM RUSHED TO KERALA: All the four shutters of Malampuzha reservoir, the biggest irrigation dam in Kerala, were opened on Thursday.



Thiruvananthapuram: A rain-ravaged Kerala is bracing for more downpour even as a low-pressure area is likely to form over southeast Arabian Sea on Friday. The Kerala state disaster management authority (KSDMA) has stepped up its preparedness to tide over heavy to very heavy rain, as predicted by the India Meteorological Department (IMD). The National Disaster Response Force has dispatched teams to the state, based on a request by the state government. KSDMA, on Thursday, advised Malappuram and Idukki to be on red alert on Sunday. The red alert issued to Palakkad and Thrissur earlier for the same day has been downgraded to orange. The Thrissur district administration, however, decided to evacuate families living in land slide prone areas, if the rain intensifies in the coming days. Besides Thrissur and Palakkad, Idukki, too, has been put under orange alert on Friday, Saturday and Monday. KSDMA member secretary Sekhar Kuriakose said the alerts might change based on the weather condition. He added that all district collectors have been alerted about the weather conditions. A high-level meeting chaired by the chief secretary has asked the authorities concerned to follow the standard operating procedures, including alerting and getting the approval of district collectors, before opening dam shutters. With the neighbouring Tamil Nadu too in high alert, the reservoir levels of dams maintained by that state, are a matter of concern for Kerala.


IMD director K Santosh said the low-pressure area could intensify into a cyclonic storm, triggering heavy to very heavy rainfall in several parts of Kerala. Heavy rain in the range of 7 to 11cm to very heavy rainfall in the range of 12 to 20 cm are likely in parts of Kerala till October 8. Heavy rainfall of over 21 cm and above is likely to occur in parts of Kerala on Sunday. IMD and KSDMA have also warned of rough to very rough sea on Saturday, with strong winds gusting up to 60 kmph. Earlier, the authorities had asked fishermen to return by Friday noon, and advised them not to go fishing from Friday. The Navy and coast guard, too, are on alert. Meanwhile, many parts of Idukki continued to receive isolated heavy rain, forcing authorities to open the shutters of Mattuppetty, Kallarkutty and Malankara dams on Wednesday night and Thursday morning. The district administration also banned tourists from visiting Munnar, and restricted night traffic through hilly areas. The water levels in Idukki reservoir and Mullaperiyar were 2387.76 feet and 129.10 feet, respectively, on Thursday. In Palakkad, the shutters of Malampuzha, Pothundy and Mangalam reservoirs were opened on Thursday.



5 die of dengue in Sept, monsoon diseases have killed 23 this year


Mumbai: Monsoon diseases claimed 23 lives this year with leptospirosis and dengue emerging as the leading killers. While the withdrawal of monsoon is likely to bring respite from leptospirosis, doctors say dengue cases will continue to rise till November. The city already accounts for 50% of dengue deaths in the state so far this year. The BMC’s health report, released on Thursday, states that the 12 lives claimed by leptospirosis, nine by dengue and two by malaria this monsoon is a decline from 2017 when 30 lives were lost to these diseases. Leptospirosis deaths, though, have nearly doubled since last year, though the majority of hospitalisations this year were for dengue. In September alone, the mosquito-borne disease contributed to 5,000 hospitalisations in the public sector and through the monsoon 3,000-4,000 admissions were due to dengue-like illnesses. The bi-weekly BMC report said there were five dengue deaths in September compared with three in August and one in July. The latest deaths were spread across all age groups and areas in the city, including Walkeshwar, Kandivli East, Kumbharwada, Agripada and Malad. The Walkeshwar victim was a 42-year-old Raj Bhavan employee who lived on the campus. The BMC said the deceased had a history of travel to London in the first week of September. By the time she was hospitalized on September 20, she had already been suffering from fever with chills and body ache and nausea for four to five days.


She died of dengue shock syndrome with multi-organ failure. Similarly, the Kandivli victim, a 13-year-old boy, was transferred to a public hospital after undergoing treatment at a private centre. He too had four to five days of fever and was admitted with liver, kidney failure and low platelet count. He died within two days of hospitalisation. The 58-year-old victim from Kumbharwada in Dharavi had underlying diabetes, hypertension and hypothyroidism. The civic report said she died of cardiorespiratory failure with breathing distress. The 42-year-old Agripada resident had died within a few hours of hospitalization. The death committee found that even though he was advised hospitalisation after a low platelet count, he chose to stay home. Dengue fever has been raging not just in Mumbai but across the state. A state official said that over 6,000 confirmed cases have been recorded till the end of September. “Mumbai has recorded 50% of the deaths in Maharashtra. Dengue fever will continue to affect till November,” said the official. A BMC official said that inspections were carried out across 6.5 lakh households, of which breeding of aedes aegypti was found in nearly 5,000. Breeding of malaria-causing anopheles mosquito was found only in 375 places.



After polio vaccine scare, Centre says nothing to fear


Mumbai: Putting to rest the fears of anxious parents, the union health ministry has said the chance of any child developing a serious illness due to polio vaccination is “practically nil”. Following reports that parents were afraid to immunize their children, doctors have said the use of oral polio vaccine (OPV) and inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) is safe and should be continued as per the immunization schedule. The trigger for the anxiety is discovery of traces of p2 vaccine-virus in environmental samples in Mumbai and stool samples of two children in UP. The centre discovered contamination of some vials of bivalent OPV, supposed to contain type 1 and type 3 strains, with the p2 strain. The use of the strain had been discontinued in vaccines world over since 2016. Speaking to TOI, a senior union health ministry official said, “People need to understand that the wild form of the p2 virus was eradicated in 1999. A weak form of the virus is used in vaccines so that it can replicate in the gut of children and give them immunity. The contamination that happened was with this weak vaccine-virus which, till 2016, was given to children as part of the national programme. So, something that was not harmful then wouldn’t cause grave issues now”.


Maharashtra government has confirmed that none of the contaminated vials have come to the state. Doctors also rubbished messages doing the rounds on social media groups that the vaccine-virus can mutate. “The risk of any child getting vaccine-derived polio is practically nil,” a statement from the union health ministry said. “Surveillance has been heightened everywhere. We haven’t come across a single case where a child has developed weakness in the limb or paralysis following vaccination. In short, there is no stopping of polio vaccination,” said Dr Bela Verma, head of Paediatrics at JJ and president Indian Academy of Paediatrics (IAP), Mumbai. Paediatrician Dr Samantha Castelino said parents of children born after 2016 are worried their children are not immunised against the p2 strain. “They should know that the injectable IPV vaccine protects them against all three strains,” she said. Over 90% children in the city are vaccinated with two to four shots of IPV.



Dust Storm coming, may bring haze and spoil air



New Delhi: A dust storm could soon be headed towards northern India engulfing the capital’s air in a haze between October 10 and October 14 and sending Delhi’s air quality to very poor or severe, the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) told the Union environment ministry. According to EPCA, European forecasters show an anti-cyclonic circulation, which is currently over Lakshadweep, to move across Iran and Pakistan and enter the northern part of India — bringing a haze of dust with it. Following the observations, EPCA has informed the ministry of environment and forest and the body said a meeting is likely to be held on Friday with scientists from the ministry to investigate the impact. “Precautionary measures can be taken once we know the extent of the dust storm and how it could impact north India and Delhi in particular. Once we get clarity from the ministry, EPCA can also take certain precautionary measures on its own,” said Sunita Narain, member of EPCA and director general at CSE.


According to the forecast, the anti-cyclonic circulation is likely to reach India by October 10 with its impact lingering close to October 14. At the same time, EPCA says a low pressure system is developing in the Bay of Bengal, which could also cause stormy weather in the Indo-Gangetic plains. Delhi’s air quality has largely been hovering between “moderate” to “poor” over the last one week with PM 10 levels on the higher side — largely due to dust suspension. Officials from CPCB said there was no need to panic, with Delhi still in a transition phase after the monsoon season. “Wind speeds had reduced, but this is normal for this time of the year and there is no reason to panic. The air quality this year has already been better than what it was last year,” a CPCB official said.



Your face will give you access to flights at 6 airports by April



New Delhi: Your smile is all set to become your boarding card for domestic flights at Hyderabad and Bengaluru airports by next February. And a month later, Varanasi, Kolkata, Pune and Vijayawada will join the list of airports where “passengers will be taken at face value,” said Union aviation minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday while giving details of the voluntary facial recognition-based access system. TOI had earlier reported about the development in its Thursday edition. “These six airports will be the first,” aviation secretary R N Choubey said about this Digi yatra (DY) project. After these six, Delhi and Mumbai and then other airports will get the system under which paperless boarding will be a reality. Flyers who wish to opt for voluntary DY will need to generate a unique DY ID by giving details on an aviation ministry portal and then give this number while booking air tickets. On the first visit to airport, flyers will need to get their ID card, given at the time of generating their unique number, verified. Those who opt to give their Aadhaar number can do the verification online. Once verified, the flyer’s photo will be added to their DY profile in a secure data base. Whenever flyers who opt for DY go to airports subsequently, they will scan the code of their e-boarding card and DY ID will verify their ID using face recognition. Once confirmed, e-gates will open and let flyers access points where they currently show a physical ID card and boarding card.



Day after: Patients bear the brunt, agencies grope in dark


Kolkata: More than 36 hours of investigation by three agencies the police, the fire department and the PWD — failed to throw up a clear cause of the fire that sparked the biggest evacuation operation in the country’s oldest medical college and hospital on Wednesday. Two pharmacy department staffers, pharmacist Shirshendu Bikash Das and Group-D staffer Ramayan Chaudhuri, were in the air-conditioned emergency medicine counter when the fire broke out a little before 8am. Cops questioned them, but different stakeholders — agencies probing the fire and Medical College and Hospital officials — worked on different theories through Thursday without anyone being able to pinpoint the cause of the fire. The forensic team, which went through the fire-ravaged store on Thursday, said the fire could have started from a desktop computer that was connected directly to the power line. “The computer was badly burnt and mangled. Cotton was stacked next to it. We suspect a massive power surge caused the computer to overheat and ignite. The cotton kept next to it then caught fire, fanning the flames,” a forensic official said. However, pharmacy department officials came up with a different explanation.



Pharmacy staffers said they suspected that the fire could have started from a spark in the wiring that led to the exhaust fan in the store room, where medicines and consumables like cotton gauge and swabs were stocked. This exhaust fan had been a cause of concern for some time, they added. “We have noticed sparks where the wiring from the switch joins the wire from the exhaust fan. The matter was even raised at a Rogi Kalyan Samiti (patient welfare committee) meeting in August. We have noticed sparks on three occasions since then. The public works department in the hospital was told about the problem but nothing was done. We suspect a spark may have ignited the cotton gauge and led to the fire,” a pharmacist said. But fire department officials insisted that their initial probe did not point to an electrical fire. The building was nearly two centuries old but the wiring was done recently (when the building was revamped and refurbished), a fire official said. “Circuit-breakers were installed, which would have been tripped by a short circuit. But our inspection revealed that they had not tripped,” he added.


A PWD electrical engineer said the exhaust fan may not have been connected to circuit-breakers but supported the fire department contention of a nonelectrical fire. The board to which the charred computer was plugged did not show any sign of burns as would have happened in case of short-circuit or electricity surge. “So, if it is not an electrical fire, it has to be an accident or arson. We do not yet have any proof for the latter (like a match that ignited the fire or any accelerant that fueled it). Moreover, the place where the fire started had controlled and restricted access, making it difficult for an outsider to enter and cause mischief. So, at this point, it looks like an accidental fire. But we are yet to conclude what caused it,” the official said. Trinamool MLA and Rogi Kalyan Samiti chairperson Nirmal Maji said: “Fingers are being pointed at some people. There are indications that there was a conspiracy behind the fire. A six-member committee will conduct a probe”.



New fire-safety measures must for city markets



Kolkata: Coming under pressure from opposition councilors, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation authorities on Thursday said that no municipal or private market will be allowed to run without upgrading to latest fire-fighting norms as recommended by a high-powered committee on fire prevention. CPM councilor Mrityunjoy Chakraborty, Congress councilor Prakash Upadhyay and BJP councilor Meena Devi Purohit on Thursday brought a resolution at the KMC monthly meeting seeking replies from the civic authorities whether the civic administration was contemplating action against those guilty in the Bagri market fire incident. They also sought to know what would be the future of Bagri Market and some other major markets located across the city that are running without bothering to undertake fire prevention measures. While giving reply to queries from opposition, mayor Sovan Chatterjee said the civic body would take a decision on re-opening and renovation of Bagri market after talking to experts from IIT (both Kharagpur and Roorkie). But, Chatterjee made it clear that under no circumstances the civic body would compromise with the fire safety of Bagri or any other markets. “We have a set format for adopting fire safety norms for the owners of private markets as well as the management of our own markets. We have already sent circulars to all market superintendents asking them to upgrade the fire-fighting system,” Chatterjee told the opposition councilors.



Heavy rain likely in Pondicherry & TN on Oct 7, red alert issued

DARKNESS AT NOON: Gloomy sky during the day coupled with very heavy rainfall reduced visibility in Ariyanoor forcing vehicles taking the Salem-Coimbatore National Highway to turn on their headlights as a precaution.



Chennai: The India Meteorological Department on Thursday issued a red alert for Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry on October 7 saying, “heavy to very heavy rain with extremely heavy falls likely to occur at isolated places” due to a cyclonic storm in the Arabian Sea. As per the naming convention of systems in Indian Ocean, the next cyclone will be named Luban by Oman. Incidentally, as per the IMD forecast, a depression is likely to be formed in the Arabian Sea on October 5 and is expected to strengthen into a cyclone and move towards Oman coast. “Heavy to very heavy rain is likely in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry,” said deputy director general of meteorology S Balachandran. Chennai will experience rainfall with a break now and then. At times heavy rain is also possible in some areas, said Balachandran. “A low pressure is likely to be formed in the Southeast Arabian sea on Friday and this could intensify into a cyclonic storm. Rain is likely in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in the next three days, with the possibility of heavy rainfall in one or two places,” he told reporters. “Fishermen are advised not to venture into the sea from October 5-8 over the south Kerala coast, Lakshadweep area, Comorin area, South-East Arabian sea and Central Arabian sea. Those who are in deep sea are advised to return to the coast by October 5,” he said.


An upper air circulation over south-west Bay of Bengal adjoining Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka brought heavy rain to many parts of the state and Puducherry in the last 24 hours ending 8am Thursday. Rain will continue for the next three days. In Tamil Nadu, Kattummannarkoil in Cuddalore district and Kullambady in Trichy district recorded the highest rainfall of 11cm each as of 8am on Thursday. The state government directed collectors to stay prepared and position rescue teams on the eve of October 7, or ahead if the situation demanded. “The state disaster response force and the trained policemen in coastal and non-coastal districts have been alerted. Inter-departmental teams have been formed across the state,” revenue administration and disaster management and mitigation commissioner K Satyagopal told TOI. Red alert control room numbers: Kancheepuram control room numbers: 1077, 044-27237107, 27237207; Tambaram control room numbers: 044-22410050; WhatsApp numbers; Kancheepuram: 9445051077; Tambaram: 9445071077.



International News



In Argentina, ATM’s to now buy and sell crypto currency



Buenos Aires: Argentina could get up to 30 automated teller machines that buy and sell bitcoin by the end of the year, industry representatives said, an expansion of the cryptocurrency market amid an economic crisis that has seen the peso’s value tumble. Athena Bitcoin, a US company that specialises in cryptocurrency ATMs, launched Argentina’s first bitcoin ATM last month in a Buenos Aires shopping mall, a company spokesperson said. US-based Odyssey Group said of the 150 ATMs it aims to install by the end of the year in Argentina, 80% of those will be bitcoin-operational within the first months of 2019. Cryptocurrencies are virtual currencies not backed by any central bank or hard asset, with bitcoin the world’s best-known. “Today, the cryptocurrency ATMs in the world are growing exponentially. In Argentina, there were no commercial ATMs and the idea was to be the first to capture the market,” said Dante Galeazzi, Argentina operations manager for Athena Bitcoin. Athena Bitcoin already has 12 ATMs in Colombia, and the Argentine financial crisis, with inflation expected to exceed 40% by the end of the year, presented a growth opportunity in the cryptocurrency market, Galeazzi said. The peso has lost more than 50% of its value against the dollar so far in 2018.

News Flash – 4 October 2018

National News



Mumbai airport to be closed for 6 hours on October 23 for runway work



Mumbai: Mumbai Airport will be shut for six hours on October 23 and then for three days every week from February 7 to March 30 next year for runway maintenance. Nearly 250 flights have been cancelled by airlines due to the closure. Passengers booked on evening flights those days could expect delays. Frequent flyers and those who typically buy tickets less than 24-48 hours in advance could be hit as last-minute airfares, especially on routes like Mumbai-Delhi, Mumbai-Bangalore and Mumbai-Kochi are expected to go up. Maintenance and repairs will be carried out on the portion that covers the intersection of cross runways. In February, March work on the intersection will be carried out from 11am-5pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, except on March 21. Airfares on routes out of Mumbai are already high during the current peak travel season. “However, since February and March happen to be lean seasons for travel, the impact would not be as high as say, had the closure been carried out in April-May,” said an aviation official. An airline official said, “On high-demand routes like Mumbai-Delhi, the fares would be high. It will hit frequent flyers the most as they typically buy last-minute tickets, which will be priced higher on these days,” said an airline official. “In fact on certain routes, there might be no last-minute tickets available for purchase, say five to six hours before the scheduled time of departure,” he added. An air traffic control official said, “Since Mumbai airport is congested, airlines have been forced to cancel flights scheduled during the closure timings. It’s not possible to accommodate these flights before or after the closure as the airport already handles close to 50 arrivals/ departures in an hour”.



Sparks from electric pole in Byculla trigger panic opposite fire brigade HQ


Mumbai: A huge spark from an electric pole in Byculla triggered panic among motorists during evening peak hour on Wednesday. No one was injured. Passers-by said that a “heavy” spark from the electric pole near the Khada Parsi statue slowed down traffic at the busy junction, right across the city’s fire headquarters around 7 pm. TOI photojournalist Sanjay Hadkar who was at the spot said that had a fireman rushed across with basic equipment, the sparks could have been put out sooner enough. However, the fireman got a fire brigade van which took at least 15 minutes to plod through traffic. All this while the sparks kept coming out of the pole. Some people had alerted the fire brigade.



Alert loco pilot saves duo lying injured on track



Thane: An alert locomotive pilot of an express train rescued two middle-aged men lying injured on the tracks between Thane and Diwa stations around 10am on Wednesday. P N Behram, loco pilot of Manmad Mumbai Rajyarani Express, noticed the two men when the train had crossed Diwa and had picked up speed. Behram applied the brakes and stopped the train. In the meantime, he alerted his guard, R K Tiwari, and, using a flasher and headlight, signaled an oncoming train on the down fast line to halt. “The men had probably fallen from some train and were trying to get up. I instinctively stopped my train and decided to help them,” said Behram. The injured men were carried into the guard’s brake van and handed over to the Thane station manager, who sent them to civil hospital for treatment.



Kerala disaster authority issues red alert in 3 districts



Thiruvananthapuram: After’s India meteorological department (IMD) warned of heavy to very heavy rain till October 6 followed by extremely heavy rain on October 7, Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) issued a red alert in Idukki, Palakkad and Thrissur on Sunday. Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who convened an emergency meeting with KSDMA officials on Wednesday, said there is the possibility of a deluge or cyclonic storm with extremely heavy rain (over 20cm) on Sunday in these districts. Emergency measures will be in place on a war-footing to minimize the risks involved due to extremely heavy rain, rough sea and strong winds. The low-pressure area over southeast Arabian Sea will intensify into a depression, the effects of which could lead to sea erosion or flash floods. Fishermen should be advised not to venture into sea, he said. “We have sought the support of five National Disaster Response Force teams. Till fresh instructions are given, tourists are advised not to visit hilly areas such as Munnar in the wake of Kurinji bloom from Friday,” said Vijayan. KSDMA executive committee will meet on Thursday to take stock of dam levels and implement preventive steps. Earlier in the day, state emergency operations centre scientists had warned that a low-pressure area is likely to form over southeast Arabian Sea and adjoining Lakshadweep on Saturday.



25 Swine Flu cases reported across state since September 22



Hyderabad: The dreaded H1N1 virus is rearing its head across the state with 25 new cases recorded since September 22. Out of these, eight cases were reported on Monday alone, as per the latest data. In addition, 37 suspected cases of swine flu were also reported on Monday, taking the total number of swine flu cases recorded across the state so far to 75. While majority of the suspected cases have been referred to by private hospitals, currently two patients are undergoing treatment at the state-run Gandhi hospital. As per the health authorities, all cases from private hospitals are being sent to Institute of Preventive Medicine (IPM), while cases from government hospitals are being sent to laboratory at Fever Hospital for testing. “This is the beginning of the swine flu season and the H1N1 activity is expected to see an upswing with decrease in temperature. The number of suspected cases have already started increasing. The cases will increase further by beginning of November and will peak during November and December,” said Dr K Shankar, director, IPM. Insiders say many cases from districts might be going unnoticed as hospitals in districts are still not sending many samples owing to low awareness. “There is a need raise awareness in districts by imparting knowledge to healthcare providers about symptoms like fever, cough, cold, body pain and respiratory distress,” said a senior official from health department.



Critical patients dash to cheat death at MCH


Kolkata: A fire ran through Medical College and Hospital’s pharmacy on Wednesday, making the country’s oldest medical college the scene of the city’s third major disaster in a month. Seventy-five-year-old Saidul Islam Mallik, who was in hospital with severe respiratory distress and was one of the 250-plus evacuated patients, died a few hours after he had to walk down two floors and then 60 more metres — from one building to another — with his son lugging the oxygen cylinder behind him all the while. The fire was controlled after five hours but, by then, MCH had become the scene of one of the city’s biggest evacuation operations in recent memory. Wednesday’s fire also extended Kolkata’s recent run of ill fortune — starting with the Majerhat bridge collapse (September 4) and including the Bagri Market fire (September 16) — in the run-up to its biggest festival season; in the middle of all this, an eight-year-old boy lost his life in Nagerbazar on Tuesday after someone kept a bomb about 35 feet away from a Trinamool Congress party office.


An initial probe could not pinpoint the cause of Wednesday’s fire. Staff and patients first spotted black smoke emerging from the pharmacy before 8 am; the fire brigade logged its first call at 7.58 am. Cardboard boxes, paper, plastic, cotton, bandages and swabs fueled the flames even as four fire-tenders from Md. Ali Park fire brigade reached the spot in seven minutes. They called for reinforcements from the Lalbazar fire brigade after realising that they needed help. Director-general (fire) Jag Mohan said: “A forensic test will reveal the cause of fire. We could contain the fire to the ground floor though some smoke spread to the floor above.” Three separate agencies will probe the incident: police, fire department and PWD. But patients’ kin, who stayed on the premises overnight, launched evacuation ops before the first fire-tenders reached the spot. Patients were carried or trolleyed out of the cardiology, haematology and medicine wards though many, like Mallik, had to walk it to safety after their saline tubes were removed.



2 men from Nepal held for attempt to Rob Bank



Chennai: Police have cracked the attempted robbery of a nationalised bank at Ramapuram on October 1, with the arrest of two Nepali nationals in Valasaravakkam on Wednesday. With the help of CCTV footage, a special team headed by assistant commissioner Sampath, inspectors Subramani, Sis Jayaram, Rajesh Kumar and constables Vijayan and Parthiban narrowed down on the duo, who were identified as Ganesh Bogati, 20, and Narath Bogati, 21. Interrogations with them revealed that they were part of a six-member gang from Nepal. The men arrived at the bank in a car with gas cutters and two LPG cylinders to break open the grille. They fled the place after a burglar alarm was triggered, alerting the bank’s Mumbai head office, which informed police in Chennai. Police said they were former employees of a Tasmac shop in Tiruvottiyur. They quit their job last month and were working at a restaurant in Porur.


“The men told us during questioning that since their job earned them a meagre salary, they decided to strike at a bank and flee the country,” said an investigating officer. They were searching for a potential target, when they came across the bank in Ramapuram. “They were standing at a bus stop opposite the bank when they noticed that it was located in a deserted lane and had no security guard. So, they hit upon a plan to rob it,” said the officer. Police are on the lookout for the other four members of the gang – Harish Bogati, Agni Hadka, Lokesh Hadka and Bishnu Bogati – who are still at large. Police are also probing if the men have any link with another Nepali national, who stole cash and gold from a nationalised bank on Arcot Road in Virugambakkam in March this year.



8 test positive for Zika in Jaipur



Jaipur: Eight people, of which three are pregnant women, have tested positive for Zika virus infection in Jaipur, Rajasthan. The first case was reported in September last week. Zika virus infection is caused by a virus transmitted primarily by aedes genus mosquito, mainly aedes aegypti, which bites during the day. The health department issued directions to conduct compulsory Zika virus tests on pregnant women with fever in the Shastri Nagar area. There are 318 pregnant women in the area and the health department is keeping them under watchful eyes. As soon as report of eight more positive cases came to light, the health department swung into action and called for an urgent meeting with officials from SMS medical college, health directorate and Jaipur Municipal Corporation on Wednesday. “We had sent more than 20 samples of suspected Zika cases to National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune,” said Dr SM Sharma, adding they are awaiting reports of 13 more people from NIV.



International News



Quake toll at 1,400, island now sees a volcano erupt

A handout picture released by an Indonesian agency on Wednesday shows Soputan volcano in Sulawesi spewing ash and smoke.



Jakarta: A volcano erupted on Wednesday on the same Indonesian island struck last week by a powerful earthquake and tsunami, and authorities warned planes about volcanic ash in the air. Mount Soputan on Sulawesi island spewed a massive column of ash more than 6,000 meters into the sky. No evacuations were immediately ordered. The eruption took place on a day when the official death toll increased to 1,407, with thousands injured and more than 70,000 displaced from their homes. National disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the number of dead would increase, but that rescue crews had reached all affected areas. A government expert said it’s possible the eruption was accelerated by the magnitude 7.5 quake that struck on Friday. “It could be that this earthquake triggered the eruption, but we have seen an increase in volcanic activity since July and this began surging on Monday. Yet we can’t say there a direct link,” Kasbani, the head of volcanology and geology disaster mitigation agency, said.



Facebook hack puts thousands of sites at risk



San Francisco: When Mark Zuckerberg introduced an online tool called Facebook Connect in 2008, he hailed it as a kind of digital passport to the rest of the internet. In just a few clicks, users would be able to log in to other apps and sites with their Facebook passwords. The tool was adopted by thousands of other firms, from publishing companies to tech outfits like Airbnb and Uber. Now those outfits could have been exposed to the consequences of an attack on Facebook’s computer systems. On Friday, the company said the account entry keys of at least 50 million Facebook users had been stolen in the largest hack in the company’s history. But the effect could be significantly bigger since those stolen credentials could have been used to gain access to so many other sites. Companies that allow customers to log in with Facebook Connect are scrambling to figure out whether their own user accounts have been compromised. The hack underscore the lengths to which Facebook has cemented itself as the identity of the internet, and what happens when the security systems fail. “Just the sheer fact that this exists will magnify the scale of any hack,” said Jason Polakis, an assistant professor at the University of Illinois. Tinder has found no evidence that accounts have been breached, based on the “limited information Facebook has provided,” Justine Sacco, a spokesperson for Tinder, said.