Category Archives: News Flash

News Flash – 21 May 2018

National News



Rs. 5 lakh’s reward for crime branch team that cracked Rs 2 crore ATM van heist in five hours



MUMBAI: The home department has approved Rs 5 lakh reward to a 17-member crime branch team that cracked within five hours a Rs1.9 crore ATM van heist in January 2015. All the six persons involved in the robbery were arrested and the loot recovered within 24 hours. The trial in the case has started and all the accused are in judicial custody. The incident happened on January 16, 2015 soon after Security Trans Company’s van left its Lower Parel office with Rs2.1 crore. The vehicle had five people: a custodian, his assistant, two guards and a driver. The crime was masterminded by Sadre Alam, a guard, with the help of the driver, Tariq Khan. When the van was near Worli Naka around 2 pm, Alam told Khan to stop the vehicle saying he had to meet a friend to collect money and asked them to have tea at a roadside stall till then. There, an aide of Alam gave them tea laced with sedative. By mistake, Khan also consumed some of the tea. “Alam returned within 15 minutes and they resumed the journey. Soon, the others lost consciousness. When the van was near Milan subway on Western Express highway, a white Zen, driven by Alam’s aides, blocked it.


They took out Rs1.95 crores and escaped. Khan told Alam he would act unconscious and stay back so that no one suspects him. He also asked Alam to hand over Rs35 lakh, his share, to a friend in Goregaon,” said senior inspector Deepak Phatangare, who was part of the investigation team and is currently posted at Malvani police station. As soon as the heist came to light, Vile Parle police and a team led by the then assistant commissioner of police Sunil Deshmukh—the team comprised senior inspector Deepak Phatangare, inspector Pandrinath Vavhal, Raju Kasbe, Sunil Mane, Sudhir Dalvi and team—reached Veera Desai Hospital in Santacruz where Khan and three others were admitted. As Khan had consumed only a little tea, he soon regained consciousness. “We picked Khan after finding discrepancies in his statements. He broke down and revealed the heist,” said Phatangare. Based on his statement, police recovered Rs35 lakh from his friend’s home. “His arrest led to two more accomplices. As we learnt from them that Alam was headed to Punjab, the Punjab police was alerted. Alam and two more accomplices were arrested at a naka bandi in Patiala the next day,” said inspector Mane, who is attached with Sakinaka police station now. ACP Deshmukh said they also learnt that Sadre was involved in a bank fraud in 2014.



500 flights delayed as winds hinder pilots in absence of navigation aid


MUMBAI: If you boarded a flight from Mumbai on Sunday and it took off on time, in all probability it was an early morning departure. After noon, particularly in the evening, almost all departures were delayed by an average of an hour, while arrivals were about 30 minutes late; 500 flights were delayed throughout the day, the worst-hit being in the evening and late night as the airport managed with only basic navigation aid, with gusting winds adding to delays. The airport’s instrument landing system (ILS), a navigation aid that allows air-traffic control (ATC) to stack arrivals close to each other, will remain switched off on runway 27 till June 5 for an upgrade. Sources said efforts were on to finish the work by June 2. What was commendable was that even with only basic navigation aid, Mumbai’s ATC managed to handle about 45 landings and take-offs an hour. With ILS, the runway can handle up to 54 flights an hour. Since delays are expected to continue this month, airfares on early morning flights out of Mumbai are likely to go up in the coming days. On Sunday, on a 24-hour advance purchase, the fare on the much-coveted early morning Delhi-Mumbai flight was Rs 10,000, while the cheapest fare for the day was Rs 8,000, which was for a seat on a late-evening flight.


Throughout Sunday, Mumbai airport stayed put on the top 10 list of worst airports in the world for flight delays. On flightradar24, a live-flight tracking website, between 4pm and 6pm, Mumbai airport ranked second, after Ningbo in China, for having the highest number of delayed flights. Bad weather added to the workload of ATC and pilots of aircraft that landed between 1.30pm and 4.30pm as winds gusting at 35 kmph further slowed down flight movement. “Flight operations were moved to secondary runway 32 between noon to 4pm to carry out routine maintenance of the main runway. Wind added to delays,” said a senior air-traffic controller. B Gupta, booked on a Mumbai-Lucknow flight scheduled to depart at 12.25pm but which eventually left at 3.40pm, said she left home around 10am. “I was travelling with a toddler. Had I received flight delay messages earlier, I would have left home only by noon,” she said. Said an airline official: “We haven’t been able to gauge how delayed would the arrival of a flight that left on time be and so it’s not possible to send delay messages to passengers booked on the next departure”.



Robotic arms to help firefighters act fast



New Delhi: Delhi Fire Service (DFS) is all set to equip itself better by the end of this year to match its infrastructure with most developed countries. Considering the increasing number of deaths caused due to fire, the department has made a first-of-its-kind plan to buy robotic arm fire tenders to deal with bigger incidents, especially in places where there are chances of walls collapsing. Senior fire officials said there are higher chances of the walls of a house or factory collapsing due to excessive heat. This is when the robotic arms will come in handy as they will ensure that the blaze is doused at the earliest. “Often, when a blaze is huge, firefighters cannot go inside. The delay sometimes causes grievous injuries or loss of life. This can be prevented with the help of robotic arms,” said an official. DFS director, RC Mishra, said that they will at first procure two robotic arms at Rs 4 crore each. The machine is being used in Germany, Japan and China and will have to be imported from one of these countries. The robotic arms will also have cameras and sensors to help the operator know the range of water, the amount of force required and volume available in the tank, officials said. They can change shape, be connected to pumps and throw water up to 100m from a height of almost 40m. They can be useful in congested lanes as fire tenders often get late in reaching such spots.


“Narrow and crowded lanes have always been a hindrance for us in reaching the place of a blaze in time. We will also be acquiring drones, which will be put in operation as soon as a fire is reported in narrow lanes,” said another official. Families of most victims have complained about fire tenders not reaching on time resulting in loss of lives. The robotic arms will give firemen time to reach the spot and make necessary arrangements. Officials added that crisis situations like the fire in a Bawana factory where 17 workers died inside the premises can be avoided to a large extent with the aid of such machines. In the last one month, hundreds of people have lost their houses in massive slum fires. “We will most likely have these machines by the end of this year,” said an official. As compared to 2017, more firemen have died while rescuing those caught inside burning houses and factories despite having their firefighting suits on. Officials have also requisitioned for better suits to avert such tragedies. The fire department has a total strength of 1,750 people. Almost 60 more fire tenders will be added taking the fleet to 250.



Hyderabad to get India’s first cyber security cluster



HYDERABAD: The Hyderabad Security Foundation (HSF) — India’s first cyber security cluster — will be formally launched on May 22 in the city, with the Mayor of Hague and the head of the Hague Security Delta (HSD) signing a ‘program of corporation’ on cyber security. This was confirmed by Telangana IT secretary, Jayesh Ranjan who shared that the delegation will also include cyber security companies from the Netherlands. The visit, he added, is aimed at intensifying Indo-Dutch cooperation in the cyber security sector and strengthening ties to focus on counter-terrorism and information sharing. “The agreement between member companies and institutions of the Hyderabad Security Foundation and the HSD will be signed on May 22. We have a good eco-system of cyber security here in Hyderabad due to the presence of private companies, government institutions, start-ups and National law school (NALSAR). We will be taking help from HSD in developing a cyber-security cluster of our own apart from designing cyber security courses and developing legal framework for cyber security which is currently not robust in India”.


The launch of the cluster is expected to catapult Hyderabad into the global cyber security eco-system in a big way. “Our vision is to achieve a major stake in the $35 billion cyber security market. Our major emphasis will on critical information infrastructure protection, government network, e-governance, education and skill training, security software development, innovation of products ban services and collaboration in forensic science,” said Zaki Qureshey, founding father and task force member HSF. Political dialogue has been on between the countries. “For India’s information sector, Europe ranks number two in terms of amount of business it drives, and for many IT firms, it’s their largest global market. As companies tighten focus on containing cyber risks, they are witnessing a significant rise in digital talent gap, especially in terms of cyber security skills,” said Vikas Kohli, senior policy advisor, The Kingdom of Netherlands Embassy.



International News



Afghan cricket stadium attack leaves 8 dead, 45 wounded

An injured man receives treatment in a hospital after blasts at sports stadium in Jalalabad city, Afghanistan.



JALALABAD: Eight people were killed and 45 wounded in a series of explosions targeting a cricket match in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, officials said on Saturday, the first attack since the holy month of Ramadan began. The blasts exploded among spectators crowded into the stadium at around 11pm on Friday evening as they watched the local “Ramadan Cup”, the provincial governor’s office said. No group has yet claimed the murders but the Taliban said they were not responsible in a WhatsApp message. Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, on the border with Pakistan, has a Taliban presence and is also a stronghold of the Islamic State group. In September 2017 IS claimed a suicide bombing on a cricket match in Kabul which left three dead and five injured. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday condemned the attack in Jalalabad. “The terrorists did not stop killing our people even during the holy month of Ramadan … by carrying out a terrorist attack in a populated sport stadium, once again they have proved that they are not bound to any creed or religion, and they are the enemy of humanity,” a statement from his office said. Cricket in Afghanistan struggled under the hardline Islamist Taliban regime in the late 1990s, which viewed sports as a distraction from religious duties. But its popularity has surged in the years since the US invasion, a dizzying rise which saw Afghanistan become part of the elite group of Test nations last year.



Company in Cuba plane crash had received safety complaints

Site of the Boeing 737 crash in Havana.



HAVANA: The Mexican charter company whose 39-year-old plane crashed in Havana had been the subject of two serious complaints about its crews’ performance over the last decade, according to authorities in Guyana and a retired pilot for Cuba‘s national airline. Mexico’s government said late Saturday that its National Civil Aviation Authority will carry out an operational audit of Damojh airlines to see if its “current operating conditions continue meeting regulations” and to help collect information for the investigation into Friday’s crash in Cuba that left 110 dead. The plane that crashed, a Boeing 737, was barred from Guyanese airspace last year after authorities discovered that its crew had been allowing dangerous overloading of luggage on flights to Cuba, Guyanese Civil Aviation Director Capt. Egbert Field told The Associated Press on Saturday. The plane and crew were being rented from Mexico City-based Damojh by Easy Sky, a Honduras-based low-cost airline. Cuba’s national carrier, Cubana de Aviation, was also renting the plane and crew in a similar arrangement known as a “wet lease” before the aircraft veered on takeoff to the eastern Cuban city of Holguin and crashed into a field just after noon Friday, according to Mexican aviation authorities. A Damojh employee in Mexico City declined to comment, saying the company would be communicating only through written statements. Mexican authorities said Damojh had permits needed to lease its aircraft and had passed a November 2017 verification of its maintenance program. They announced a new audit late Saturday.


Cuban Transportation Minister Adel Yzquierdo Rodriguez told reporters Saturday afternoon that Cubana had been renting the plane for less than a month under an arrangement in which the Mexican company was entirely responsible for maintenance of the aircraft. Armando Daniel Lopez, president of Cuba’s Institute of Civil Aviation, told the AP that Cuban authorities had not received any complaints about the plane in that month. He declined to comment further. Yzquierdo said it was routine for Cuba to rent planes under a variety of arrangements because of what he described as the country’s inability to purchase its own aircraft due to the US trade embargo on the island. Cuba has been able to buy planes produced in other countries, including France and Ukraine, but has pulled many from service due to maintenance problems and other issues. “It’s normal for us to rent planes,” he said. “Why? Because it’s convenient and because of the problem of the blockade that we have. Sometimes we can’t buy the planes that we need, and we need to rent them”. He said that with Damojh, “the formula here is that they take care of the maintenance of the aircraft. That’s their responsibility”. He said Cuba didn’t have pilots certified to fly the Boeing, so it had hired the Mexican crew with the expectation that they were fully trained and certified by the proper authorities. Yzquierdo also said the jet’s “black box” voice recorder had been recovered and that Cuban officials had granted a U.S. request for investigators from Boeing to travel to the island.


Eyewitness and private salon owner Rocio Martinez said she heard a strange noise and looked up to see the plane with a turbine on fire. “It had an engine on fire, in flames, it was falling toward the ground,” Martinez said, adding that the plane veered into the field where it crashed, avoiding potential fatalities in a nearby residential area. Field told AP that the Boeing 737 with tail number XA-UHZ had been flying four routes a week between Georgetown, Guyana, and Havana starting in October 2016. Cubans do not need visas to travel to Guyana, and the route was popular with Cubans working as “mules” to bring suitcases crammed with goods back home to the island, where virtually all consumer products are scarce and more expensive than in most other countries. After Easy Sky canceled a series of flights in spring 2017, leaving hundreds of Cubans stranded at Guyana’s main airport, authorities began inspecting the plane and discovered that crews were loading excessive amounts of baggage, leading to concerns the aircraft could be dangerously overburdened and unbalanced. In one instance, Guyanese authorities discovered suitcases stored in the plane’s toilet. “This is the same plane and tail number,” Guyanese Infrastructure Minister David Patterson said. He and other Guyanese authorities said they did not immediately known if the crew suspended last May was the same one that died in Friday’s crash. Damojh operates three Boeing 737s, two 737-300s and the 737-201 that crashed Friday, according to Mexican officials.


Ovidio Martinez Lopez, a pilot for Cubana for over 40 years until he retired six years ago, wrote in a post on Facebook that a plane rented from the Mexican company by Cubana briefly dropped off radar while over the city of Santa Clara in 2010 or 2011, triggering an immediate response by Cuban aviation security officials. As a result, Cuban officials suspended a captain and co-pilot for “serious technical knowledge issues,” and Cuba’s Aviation Security authority issued a formal recommendation that Cubana stop renting planes and crews from Damojh, Martinez wrote. “They are many flight attendants and security personnel who refused to fly with this airline,” Martinez wrote. “On this occasion, the recommendation was overlooked and they rented from them again”. Contacted by AP in Havana, Martinez confirmed his Facebook account but declined to comment further. Mexican officials said the Boeing 737-201 was built in 1979. Mexican aviation authorities said a team of experts would fly to Cuba on Saturday to take part in the investigation.

News Flash – 19 May 2018

National News



Landing aid off, Mumbai airport sees nearly 600 flights delayed



MUMBAI: With a key navigation aid switched off for upgrade, the city airport witnessed severe air traffic congestion leading to an average 45 to 60-minute delays in arrivals and departures on Friday. Close to 230 arrivals and 350 departures were delayed, according to flightradar24, a flight tracking app. The Instrument Landing System (ILS), a life-saver for congested airports, will not be available on runway 27 till June 5 as new and better equipment is being installed. “With no ILS, the separation between aircraft approaching to land is now up from 10km to about 12km. Each aircraft takes longer to carry out an approach, touch down and vacate the runway. As the day progresses, the airspace gets more and more congested,” said a senior air traffic controller. A senior airline commander said: “Normally, we are instructed to carry out 1-2 holds (the circling above a city) over Mumbai when coming in to land. On Friday evening, most pilots had to carry out 4-5 holds”. One holding pattern is completed in about six minutes. “Most flights to Mumbai would have flown in with extra fuel to avoid a diversion,” he added. Passengers scheduled to travel into or out of the city this month, especially those booked on morning and evening peak-hour flights, could expect similar delays.


With the ILS on the main runway switched off from Thursday, delays had begun from last night itself. Weather woes added to it in the morning as strong winds whipped runway 27, forcing flight operations to be moved to secondary runway 14 between 9.53am and 11.40am, said a Mumbai International Airport Pvt Ltd spokesperson. Though the ILS on runway 14 was operational, it isn’t as efficient as runway 27 as it has a poor taxiway network and so landing aircraft take longer to vacate the runway post touchdown. Also, the day saw a lot of charter movement, which tends to slow down air traffic. “One flight was cancelled. There were no flight diversions,” said a Mumbai airport spokesperson. Among the passengers who were the most hit were those on Mumbai-Dubai Air India Express flight IX 247. The 1pm departure was moved to 2pm, and then at 2.15pm, after the passengers boarded the aircraft it stood on tarmac till about 7.30pm. “First, they cited air traffic congestion and then there was an engineering problem. It was unbearably hot and humid inside the aircraft. We requested the crew to deplane us, but they were rude,’’ said Brian Miranda, one of the 180 passengers on board. An Air India Express spokesperson said passengers were not allowed to de-board as it would have taken time to board them again. “We were trying to solve the engineering problem as fast as possible. Then 10 passengers said they didn’t want to fly and so we had to take their bags out,’’ the official said.


Unlike most major airports where flight operations are carried out simultaneously on parallel runways, Mumbai operates out of a single runway. “If Mumbai had parallel runways, then they could have moved the departures on the runway with no ILS. This then is a unique situation as hardly any major airports the world over would be handling over 400 arrivals in a day without the aid of ILS,’’ said a commander. A source said: “Efforts are on to finish the installation and calibration by June 2”. With no ILS on runway 27, aircraft doing an approach to land have to slow down earlier. “When ILS is operational, landing flaps and gears need to be lowered only when the aircraft is down to 2,000-1,500 ft,’’ said a senior airline commander. But without an ILS, when what’s called a VOR/DME or non-precision approach is carried out, the aircraft should be configured for landing with flaps and gears down by as early as 2,600-3,000 ft. The aircraft speed needs to be reduced before flaps and landing gear are lowered. For instance, an A320 aircraft carrying out an approach to land on runway 27 will need to reduce its speed from about 300kmph to 240kmph when it is about 2,600ft to touch down. “When the speed is reduced, the distance between two aircraft on approach to land increases,’’ said the commander. In a non-precision approach, the pilot looks out for the runway and should spot it to continue descend below 1,070ft.



Fire at Rohini Mall from short circuit



NEW DELHI: A fire broke out on the third floor of a mall in Rohini Sector 9 on Wednesday night. Fire department officers said that they were informed at 11.45pm and nine fire tenders were sent to the spot. The blazes were brought under control after an hour and no casualties were reported. A preliminary probe has revealed that the fire started due to a short circuit in the electrical system of a restaurant, which also has a bar license. Cops said that the place was vacant at the time of the incident that saved it from turning into a bigger tragedy.



Metro services disrupted in Hyderabad due to heavy winds, poor visibility

There was a minor disruption in metro rail services on the Miyapur-Nagole corridor due to the poor visibility and high speed winds recorded after rains hit the city, on Thursday.



HYDERABAD: There was a minor disruption in metro rail services on the Miyapur-Nagole corridor due to the poor visibility and high speed winds recorded after rains hit the city, on Thursday. Services were put on hold for close to 50 minutes, starting from 16:30 pm, to ensure safety of commuters. According to L&T Metro Rail (Hyderabad) Limited (LTMRHL) officials, normal services resumed from 17:20 pm. Officials pointed out due to the poor visibility and high wind speeds, trains were running ‘slightly slower’ than the normal speed and it took close to 40 minutes for this to be ‘set right’. “Due to high wind speed up to 72 kmph and poor visibility there was a minor disruption in metro services from 1630 hrs. to 1720 hrs. to ensure safety of commuters. We regret the inconvenience and normal services have resumed from 1720 hours,” tweeted LTMRHL officials, on Thursday evening. Earlier this month, metro rail services on the Nagole-Ameerpet stretch were briefly disrupted after an advertisement flex fell on the overhead equipment of the metro rail, due to the strong winds that hit the city.



Another double squall hits Kolkata, speed touches 92kmph, mercury dips by 7 degrees Celsius


KOLKATA: Two squalls in a span of 30 minutes accompanied by thunder, lightning and rain lashed Kolkata on Friday afternoon, uprooting trees and disrupting traffic movement. The mercury plunged to 25.5°C from 32.5°C right after the thundershower. The Met office expects similar conditions through next week, which might arrest the mercury from rising. Eight persons were injured and one person died in various accidents in Kolkata and Howrah that resulted from the storm. The first squall struck at 3.30pm at 56kmph. When it had started to slow down, the second one hit at 4pm at 92kmph, uprooting trees, electric poles and snapping cable wires. The highest rainfall was recorded in Dhapa — 38.6mm in about than an hour. “This was the second strongest squall this year — the strongest blew through the city at 98kmph on April 17. Thundercloud cells had formed over Nadia and North 24 Parganas before the cloud column that measured about 15km inched towards the city triggering the thunders squall,” said G K Das director (weather) at Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC), Kolkata. “The heating is already present, along with enough moisture in the air. Hence, conditions are conducive to more thundershower activities in the coming days. However, chances are low particularly on Saturday,” added Das. A tree fell on a car carrying 71-year-old Niranjan Nayak near Ganesh Talkies. He was trapped inside till the Disaster Management Group (DMG) rescued him. Nayak was admitted in Calcutta Medical College and Hospital with a leg injury.


Pedestrian Koushik Singha, 25, was wounded in the leg and head outside Victoria Memorial when a branch fell on him. He was taken to SSKM Hospital. At Sakher Bazar, Souvik Saha, 29, was hit by a falling traffic signal post and was admitted to a private hospital with hand and leg injuries. In Howrah’s Shyampur, Rabin Das, 48, died when a mango tree was uprooted and fell on his motorcycle. On Nidhiram Majhi Lane, a three-storey building collapsed, injuring four persons — two of them critically. At Mandirtala, a brick from an under-construction building fell on the head of 52-yearold Shyamal Sarkar. He was admitted to a private hospital in Kolkata. Several pockets in Kolkata were waterlogged and traffic movement was disrupted in places where uprooted trees blocked the road. The squall did not spare the state secretariat at Nabanna either. Several of the fibre sheets covering the portico in front of the VIP gate were blown away by the storm. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee was then in her room on the 14th floor. She asked the disaster management team to find out if any houses had collapsed. Professor Krishnendu Majhi of Goenka College who was returning home to Howrah via the Vidyasagar Setu said the state bus he was in had to be stopped at the middle of the bridge due to the storm. “The roof vent of the bus was blown off by the storm,” he said.



Get safety license within 2 weeks: Chennai collector to shopping malls



CHENNAI: The Chennai district administration has ordered shopping malls operating in the city to apply for license under the Tamil Nadu Public Buildings(licensing) Act to enhance safety. Failure to obtain the mandatory licence would put the shopping malls under a cloud evoking penal action. During a review meeting on the license for public buildings, district collector V Anbuselvan told the representatives of shopping malls and cinema halls to apply for the license within the next two weeks to ensure that these places adhere to the safety norms. “Owners of public buildings including schools and colleges must get the license. However, several shopping malls are ignorant about the act,” an official said. Henceforth, we have asked them to apply for the license, the official added. As per the act, no existing structure should be used as a public building without a licence. Apart from schools and colleges, hostel, libraries, clubs, lodging house, boarding house, hotels and buildings used for organising public meetings, marriages and parties also fall under the ambit of public buildings according to the Tamil Nadu Public Buildings (licensing) Act, 1965. While applying for the license, a certificate on the structural stability provided by an engineer should be attached.



Heat and dust torment Ahmedabad


AHMEDABAD: Extreme heat conditions sweeping across the state raised maximum temperature to 43.8°C in Ahmedabad on Friday, and on Thursday night killed an eight-year-old girl from Dhrangadhra town of Surendranagar district. The girl succumbed to heatstroke at a private hospital in Botad town. The victim, Dharmi Sheth, had fallen sick with severe dehydration after which she was admitted to the private hospital. On Thursday night, her condition deteriorated, said a health officer from Dhrangadhra. On Friday, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) warned of “heatwave conditions for Saturday” as well. Kandla airport and Kandla port in Kutch were the hottest places in the state where maximum temperatures touched 44.9°C and 44.6°C respectively. Maximum temperature on Friday rose above 42°C in 11 of the 23 places being monitored by the Met office. In Ahmedabad, maximum temperature was 1.9° above normal. Minimum temperature of the city was 28.3°C, 1.2° above normal. Relative humidity ranged between 62% and 27% on Friday. On Friday afternoon, strong winds and a light dust-storm hit the city, affecting traffic. The evening was partly cloudy and dusty. According to weather officials, the wind speed was 20-25 kmph in Ahmedabad and in some parts of North Gujarat. Dust storm may occur in some places of the state on Saturday as well. IMD said that maximum temperature may hover around 41°C and 45°C over North Gujarat and in parts of South Gujarat, Saurashtra, and Kutch over the next two days. Ahmedabad city will not get any respite from heat as maximum temperature will hover around 44°C on Saturday.






Ahmedabad: Avoid making any outdoor plans for the weekend. According to the India Meteorological Department, temperature is expected to remain high for next three days. With Ahmedabad recording its highest maximum temperature of this season with 44.3 degree Celsius on Thursday, orange alert has been issued for the district. The minimum temperature during the day was 27.9 degree Celsius. Kandla Airport was the hottest in the state for the second consecutive day with 45.2 degree Celsius, followed by Amreli with 44.7 degrees. Temperature in Gandhinagar was 43 degrees. Over 12 regions in the state recorded above 40 degree Celsius temperature on Thursday. IMD has also issued heat wave alert for the next two days in parts of Saurashtra-Kutch. On Thursday, 124 cases of abdominal pain, 99 of unconsciousness, 41of fainting and 49 cases of vomiting were registered by 108 services across the state. The total number of heat related emergencies was 501, of which Ahmedabad alone registered 124, highest among the four major cities. While IMD has issued an advisory to five states and a Union Territory over cyclonic storm ‘Sagar’ which is building up near Yemen, it has ruled out any significant threat to Gujarat. Manorama Mohanty, scientist at IMD Ahmedabad, said, “Cyclonic storm Sagar currently over the Gulf of Aden in the Arabian Sea is going far away and will have no impact on Gujarat”. Mohanty clarified that the cyclone would not bring the state any respite from heat. “Temperature, especially in North Gujarat region, will remain between 41and 44 degree, while that in Ahmedabad will be between 42 and 44. Orange alert has already been issued. For next three days, temperature will remain in this range”.



Cross-border fire claims lives of 8 civilians in India and Pakistan



In a steep escalation of tension between India and Pakistan on Friday, just a day ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir, five Indians, including a BSF jawan, and seven Pakistanis were killed on both sides of the international border. While four civilians and a BSF jawan were killed and 12 others injured in Pakistani mortar shelling on villages in R S Pura and Arnia sectors along the border in Jammu region, four Pakistanis were killed in retaliatory fire on Friday. Separately, three Pakistani infiltrators were killed by Indian security forces in north Kashmir, two days after the Centre’s unilateral ceasefire against terrorists in Kashmir for Ramzan came into effect. BSF inspector general of Jammu frontier, Ram Avtar, said the situation along the border is “tense” and his troops caused heavy damage to Pakistan in retaliation. “Pakistan targeting civilians is not new but we are prepared and giving them a strong, befitting and appropriate response,” Avtar told media on the sidelines of a wreath-laying ceremony for BSF constable Sita Ram Upadhyay, who was killed in Arnia sector in Pakistani shelling. The Pakistan army’s media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), claimed that four people, including three children, were killed while 10 others injured in “unprovoked ceasefire violations” by India in Pukhlian, Cahprar, Harpal, Charwah and Shakargarh sectors on their side. However, BSF sources said Pakistani Rangers resorted to heavy firing and mortar shelling in civilian areas of Arnia, R S Pura and Bishnah sectors of Jammu district around 1am on Friday. “More than 15 border outposts and an equal number of villages are affected by the shelling, sources said. “The BSF troops guarding the border retaliated and the exchange of fire is still on,” an official said.



International News



More than 100 killed in passenger plane crash in Cuba


HAVANA: More than 100 people were killed in a fiery crash of a Boeing 737 passenger plane in Cuba on Friday, Cuban broadcaster Cuba TV reported. There were three seriously injured survivors among the 114 passengers and crew, Cuban president Miguel Diaz-Canel said. The aircraft, on a domestic flight to Holguin in eastern Cuba, crashed shortly after taking off from Havana, Cuban state-run media reported. There were 105 passengers, including five children, and nine crew members. The fire from the crash had been put out and authorities were identifying bodies, President Diaz-Canel said, adding that authorities were investigating the cause of the crash. Wreckage was strewn over the area 20 km (12 miles) south of Havana, a Reuters witness said, and blackened parts of the fuselage were visible. “We heard an explosion and then saw a big cloud of smoke go up,” said Gilberto Menendez, who runs a restaurant near the crash site in the agricultural area of Boyeros. Carlos Alberto Martinez, the director of Havana’s Calixto Garcia hospital, told Reuters that four victims of the accident had been brought there. One had died and three others, all women, were in a serious condition, he said. “She is alive but very burnt and swollen,” said a distressed relative of one of the survivors at the hospital. The flight was leased by airline Cubana from a small Mexican airline called Damojh or Global, Cuban state media said. Holguin has some of the island’s most pristine beaches, and attracts tourists. Cubana declined to comment. A Damojh representative in Mexico said, “we are gathering what we can to give correct information”. The nationality of those on board was not immediately clear. State media said that the crew were foreign, but provided no further details.


Flight tracking websites indicated the flight was CU972, departing Havana at 11 a.m. (1500 GMT). The Mexican government said on its website that the plane was a Boeing 737-201 built in 1979, making it around 39 years old. Boeing Co said in a Twitter post: “We are aware of news reports out of Cuba and are closely monitoring the situation”. Boeing 737 aircraft use engines made by CFM International, the supplier of the world’s most-used engines, built by a joint venture of GE and France’s Safran. On Thursday, Cuba’s First Vice President Salvador Valdés Mesa had met with Cubana bosses to discuss public complaints about its service, according to state-run media. Problems included the cancellation of numerous domestic flights this year, and long delays which the company said were caused by technical problems with its aircraft. Earlier this month, the company was ordered to suspend flights by its six Russian built AN-158 aircraft, of which most had reportedly already been grounded. The last fatal crash in Cuba was in 2017, the Aviation Safety Network said. It was a military flight that killed all eight personnel aboard. In 2010, a commercial Aero Caribbean plane crashed in central Cuba. All 68 people on board were killed. The latest available information on Cuba from U.N. safety aviation agency ICAO, dating back to 2008, ranks it above the global average – though that preceded the latest three crashes.



At least 10 killed in Texas high school shooting, Sheriff says


SANTA FE (TEXAS): At least one gunman opened fire at a Houston-area high school Friday, killing eight to 10 people, most of them students, authorities said. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said he could not be precise about the number of deaths at Santa Fe High School, which went on lockdown around 8am. Two suspects believed to be students were in custody. It was the nation’s deadliest school shooting since the February attack in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and re-energized the gun-control movement after surviving teens launched a campaign for reform. The school district confirmed an unspecified number of injuries but said it would not immediately release further details. A school police officer was being treated at a hospital, the sheriff said, but there was no immediate word on the extent of his injuries. “We hope the worst is over, and I really can’t say any more about that because it would be pure speculation,” Assistant Principal Cris Richardson told reporters at the scene. Aerial footage showed students standing in a grassy field and three medical helicopters landing at the school in Santa Fe, a city of about 13,000 residents roughly 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of Houston. School officials said law enforcement officers were working to secure the building and move students to another location. Students were being transported to another location to reunite with their parents.


One student told Houston television station KTRK in a telephone interview that a gunman came into her first-period art class and started shooting. The student said she saw one girl with blood on her leg as the class evacuated the room. “We thought it was a fire drill at first but really, the teacher said, ‘Start running’,” the student told the television station. The student said she did not get a good look at the shooter because she was running away. She said students escaped through a door at the back of the classroom. Authorities did not immediately confirm that report. The US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said it was responding to the shooting. In the aftermath of the Feb. 14 attack on Marjory Stone man Douglas High School, survivors pulled all-nighters, petitioned city councils and state lawmakers, and organized protests in a grass-roots movement. Within weeks, state lawmakers adopted changes, including new weapons restrictions. The move cemented the gun-friendly state’s break with the National Rifle Association. The NRA fought back with a lawsuit. In late March, the teens spearheaded one of the largest student protest marches since Vietnam in Washington and inspired hundreds of other marches from California to Japan.



Two buses collide in Lincoln Tunnel, injuring at least 32



NEW YORK: Fire officials say two buses have collided in the Lincoln Tunnel, injuring at least 32 people. FDNY says the accident happened around 10 am in the center tube of the tunnel between two New Jersey Transit buses and that most of the injuries were minor. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which manages the tunnel, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Lincoln Tunnel connects New York City with New Jersey and is located on Manhattan’s West Side. Traffic is delayed as officials investigate.

News Flash – 16 May 2018

National News



Fire breaks out in Vasai leather factory, one dead

Leather factory at Vasai



MUMBAI: A 40-year-old labourer was killed in a fire which broke out in a leather factory at Vasai early Wednesday. According to eye witnesses, the smoke was billowing from the factory, manufacturing leather bags and shoes, at around 3 a.m. The security guard informed the manager, who rushed to the factory and called the fire brigade. While the factory was shut, a labourer was inside the premises. He is believed to have died of suffocation. Locals said that the fire was brought under control but it reoccurred from another spot and spread. The cause of the blaze has not been ascertained yet. Leather materials were up in flames and the loss is estimated to be over a crore. The body of the worker has been taken to the primary health centre for autopsy.



Gujarat driver held for terror plan in city: Maharashtra ATS



MUMBAI: The Maharashtra police on Tuesday arrested a 30-year-old driver from Kutch in Gujarat for his alleged nexus with anti-national elements. The state anti-terrorism squad arrested Faisal Mirza, a Mumbai resident, based on information from the police in Kolkata. The police claimed Mirza, arrested for his alleged links with Pakistan-based terror elements, was conspiring to launch attacks in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Mumbai. Another accused, A R Mansuri, a resident of Gandhigam in Gujarat, and Mirza were in touch with their Dubai-based handler, the police said. Mansuri is in custody till May 25. His name came up when the police were verifying Mirza’s call records. A scrutiny of Mirza’s phone and his interrogation led the police to Mansuri. A senior officer claimed that Mirza was trained to target some Indian cities. The police said Mirza was also in touch with Aamir Raza Khan, an alleged Indian Mujahideen founder, who is wanted in several cases in India. Mirza and six others have been booked under the IPC and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.



1.5 lakhs CCTV’s in government schools in 6 months



NEW DELHI: Delhi government will install around 1.46 lakh CCTV cameras in its 1,028 schools within six months, both for security as well as to link the students with their parents in real time through mobile phones. The expenditure finance committee approved the installation of the cameras at an estimated cost of Rs 597.5 crore. On Wednesday, Satyendar Jain, public works department minister, said the cameras would be installed in each classroom of the government schools. “After the cameras are installed, the parents will be provided with IDs and passwords to allow them to access to live footage of running classes,” Jain said. Government sources said the technical aspect of allowing parents to view live footage from the schools is being worked out by experts. The current plan is to create a special phone app for the purpose. Principals can also view live video feed on LED screens to be installed in the schools. Video footage from each camera will be available for 30 days. To enable the system, high-speed internet connectivity will be provided to schools.


Jain said seven companies responded to the bid tender for the project. “It was a rate-contract tender under which the money would be earmarked for each installed camera. The total has been estimated at Rs 597.5 crore, but the exact budget could increase or decrease,” a government official said. Of the total estimated sum, Rs 384.6 crore was earmarked for project execution and Rs 57.7 crore for maintenance over five years. The official also said, “The project will be placed before the cabinet for approval and the work would be awarded to the winning bidder only after cabinet approval.” The CCTV project will also require the clearance of lieutenant governor Anil Baijal. The school CCTV project is not part of the project to install 2,000 CCTV cameras in each of Delhi’s 70 assembly constituencies. That project is caught in a jurisdiction squabble between the LG and the government and the entire Arvind Kejriwal cabinet sitting on a dharna outside Baijal’s office on Tuesday. The LG has formed a high-level committee to prepare the standard operating procedure for installing the cameras in the city. This is opposed by the government, which maintains that locality residents should formulate the SOP, not bureaucrats.



Mercury slides by six degrees as thunderstorm hits Kolkata at 35kmph


KOLKATA: The city was lashed by a thunderstorm on Wednesday morning — the third of the month. It triggered a steady drizzle, uprooted trees and disrupted traffic in some parts of Kolkata. Dark thunderclouds hung low over the city till the storm struck with a wind speed of 35km/hr pulling the mercury down by six degrees. According to the Met office, it was triggered by clouds that were generated in the neighbouring districts of Hoogly, Burdwan and Nadia. A cyclonic circulation that stretched between Bihar and north Bengal also aided the storm. Weathermen explained that Wednesday’s thunderstorm which struck at 9.45am was not a nor’wester. “Generally, heating over the Chota Nagpur plateau attracts moisture and leads to the formation of thunderclouds that travel towards Kolkata from the northwest. But on Wednesday, we had clouds forming locally over the districts, aided by the moisture incursion that had been happening over the last 48 hours. So, the clouds travelled a shorter distance to Kolkata which caused the storm early,” said Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC) director GK Das.


He added that the morning thunderstorm was more like a pre-monsoon shower which is triggered by local clouds. “We are approaching monsoon and this is a transitory season. So, local clouds will now start forming which will alter the thunderstorm pattern. While a typical summer-time storm will invariably occur between late afternoon and evening, local clouds lead to early storms and showers,” added Das. Mercury dropped by as much as six degrees, tumbling to around 24°C from 30°C. The cooling effect lasted through the day. Real feel temperature — calculated based on humidity, intensity of sun rays, wind speed, cloudiness and precipitation — dropped below 30°C, according to a private weather forecasting service. It slid to 21°C early in the evening. The Met office didn’t rule out the possibility of a thunderstorm on Thursday. Conditions remain favourable due to the incursion of moisture and the presence of the circulation. “Till these two persist, another thunderstorm is a possibility,” said Das.



International News



Cargo plane crashes in Nepal, killing two pilots



KATHMANDU: A small Nepalese cargo plane on Wednesday crashed in a mountainous district, killing both the pilots onboard the aircraft mostly used for flying food and other supplies to remote regions. Pilot Kiran Bhattarai and co-pilot Aditya Nepali were killed when the Makalu Air cargo aircraft crashed at Simikot pass in Bahun Kharka in Humla district, police said. The single-engine Cessna 208B Grand Caravan with call sign 9N-AJU had taken off from Surkhet to Humla district and was flying at a height of 12,800 feet. The bodies of the two pilots have been brought to Kathmandu. There were no other passengers in the ill-fated aircraft, police said. The bodies were brought on board a Simrik Air helicopter at around 1 pm, said Simrik Air staffer Kamal Gautam. The aircraft took off from Surkhet Airport early today and was scheduled to land at 6:55 am in Simikot. Makalu Air has three single-engine Cessna 208B Grand Caravan aircrafts to its fleet. Based in Nepalgunj, Makalu Air provides chartered passenger and cargo services. The freight transporter aircraft was discovered wrecked and fragmented into three parts in Ekalbajkharka at around 11:00 am, a Nepalese media report said. The plane was mostly used for flying food and other supplies in the mountainous region.



Ashraf Ghani apologizes after Afghan air strike kills 30 children



KABUL: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani apologised on Wednesday to the families of civilians, mainly children, killed when the country’s air force sprayed an outdoor religious gathering with rockets and machine gun fire last month. The April 2 airstrike on a ceremony attended by hundreds of men and boys in Dasht-e-Archi district a Taliban stronghold in the northern province of Kunduz left at least 36 people dead including 30 children, a United Nations investigation has shown. Seventy-one people were wounded, including 51 children, it said, adding that it had “credible information” the tolls could be even higher. Originally the government and military had said the Afghan Air Force targeted a Taliban base where senior members of the group were planning attacks. The defence ministry initially denied any civilians had been hurt, then claimed the Taliban had shot them. Today Ghani met families as well as local elders and apologised, a statement from the presidential palace said. “(T)he difference between evildoers and a legitimate government is that a legitimate government apologizes for the mistakes made,” he said, according to the statement. He also vowed that the government would pay compensation to the families, and build a minaret in memory of the victims as well as a mosque for the region. The statement gave no further details. The UN investigators could not confirm if the casualties were all civilians or whether Taliban leaders had been present at the time of the air strike. They have called for further investigations. The government has sent two teams to conduct an investigation into the incident but so far neither team has “publicly reported their findings”, the UN said.

News Flash – 16 May 2018

National News



At least 19 killed as under-construction flyover collapses in Varanasi

The Uttar Pradesh Bridge Construction Corporation was constructing the 2,261-metre-long bridge at a cost of Rs 129 crore.



VARANASI: At least 19 people were killed and over 12 injured after being crushed under two concrete beams which fell off 40-foot-high pillars of an under-construction flyover in Varanasi on Tuesday evening. The mammoth slabs came crashing on crawling traffic on a busy service lane at 5:30pm between Cantonment railway station and Lahartara rail over-bridge on Tuesday evening. Nine vehicles, including a bus, two SUVs, two cars, auto and two-wheelers lay in a twisted, mangled heap, triggering panic and chaos in the peak evening hours.



National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) comprising 350 personnel, Army Medical Corps and police were swiftly pressed into rescue operations and it took more than four hours to extricate bodies after 200-tonne capacity cranes were pressed to partially lift the beams. Rescue operations were delayed as the heavy-duty cranes had to be brought in from NHAI campus, 15 km away. Before the NDRF arrived, it was local slum dwellers who swung into action after hearing the thud and cries of passengers writhing in pain on the busy street. Many eye-witnesses claimed rescue operations began after an hour and many of those trapped under rubble died. Chief minister Yogi Adityanath, deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya air dashed to Varanasi to take stock of the situation. The twin beams were mounted on pillar No. 79 and 80, just a week back and were left unsecured without locks. When the slabs came crashing down, labourers and the contractor at the site fled the scene. An eye-witness said, “Luckily, few passengers were seated in the bus when the beams fell. We rescued them from the wreckage and rushed them to hospital on auto-rickshaws. But pulling out trapped people from mangled SUVs, cars and two-wheelers was impossible for us”. Earlier, a police team rushed to the tragedy site and mobilised cranes to lift the beams. SSP RK Bhardwaj along with NDRF and army joined rescue operations. Despite engaging six cranes, the beams could be lifted only partially to extricate bodies. The injured were rushed to SPG Divisional Hospital and also nearby private hospitals.


“It was mayhem on a busy street. We could not fathom what was happening after the beams crashed with a bang. People were running everywhere in panic,” said Mohan Kumar, an eye-witness. Another resident, Mohammad Shaqil saw death in close quarters. “I saw the beams crashing on a biker, just a few feet away from me. He died on the spot. Concrete splinters hit the front of my bike. Allah saved me”. CM Yogi Adityanath has announced an ex gratia of Rs 5 lakh each for the kin of the deceased and Rs 2 lakh for critically injured. He also set up a high-powered three-member panel under agriculture production commissioner Raj Pratap Singh to look into the accident, which will submit a preliminary report within 48 hours. Till reports last came in, rescue operations were continuing. Officials at ground zero said, all emergency services have been roped in. Traffic has been diverted to ease relief-and-rescue operation. “It is difficult to say how many are still trapped. Rescue work is on and our focus is to take out the people from under the rubble,” said a district official. PM Narendra Modi tweeted he discussed the matter with chief minister Yogi Adityanath. “Extremely saddened by loss of lives due to the collapse of an under-construction flyover in Varanasi. I pray the injured recover soon. Spoke to officials and asked them to ensure all possible support to those affected,” Modi said in a tweet. He added, “I spoke to UP CM Yogi Adityanath. The UP government is monitoring the situation closely and is working on the ground to assist the affected”.



Two Romanians who cloned cards and skimmed Rs 50 L from bank accounts arrested



Mumbai: In a first, two Romanians, who were part of a gang that cloned 2,000 debit cards and siphoned off over 50 lakh from bank accounts of Indians, were arrested from a guesthouse in Mumbai. Gang members had installed skimmers along with secret cameras at ATM kiosks in Hyderabad and Delhi. Police managed to recover 35 lakh from the duo-Vasile Gabriel Razvan and Buricea Alexandru Mihai of Romania-at the time of their arrest. The duo along with their associates, Ticu Bogdan Costinel and Puica Eugn Marianhad hatched a plan to clone debit cards of Indians by placing skimmers at ATM centres, Cyberabad police commissioner V C Sajjanar said. Gabriel researched on the internet about top Indian cities and chose Hyderabad as one of their locations to steal debit card data. After discussing details with his aides, Gabriel obtained business visas for the gang to visit India. In December 2017, Gabriel and Alexandru came to Hyderabad and identified ATM kiosks where there were no security guards. After noting down details of the ATMs, the two went to Delhi and looked for ATMs without security guards there. In January 2018, the gang installed skimmers along with secret cameras at ATMs in Delhi and, using the information gathered, cloned debit cards. Using the cloned cards, they withdrew 9.5 lakh from ATMs in Mumbai in January and converted the Indian currency to euros at outlets of a financial services firm. Gabriel and Alexandru cloned cards while staying at a hotel near the Mumbai international airport.



40 feared drowned as boat capsizes in Andhra Pradesh



DEVIPATNAM: Around 40 people are feared drowned after a boat capsized due to strong winds in the Godavari River on Tuesday evening. Twelve, including two women and a child, swam to safety. The boat was carrying them from Kondamodalu in West Godavari district to Polavaram. Twenty boats, expert swimmers and NDRF teams have swung into action immediately to trace the missing people. The rescue operation is on in the river in pitch-dark condition. Poor light is hampering the rescue work. Chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu has directed the district authorities to take all necessary steps to rescue the missing people. The mishap took place near Manturu, 18 km from the mandal headquarters of Devipatnam, around 6pm. According to those who swam to safety, there were about 55 passengers, mostly tribals, on the boat. They complained that the operator did not heed their pleas to stop the boat even as strong winds were blowing. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday night expressed anguish over the boat tragedy and prayed for the safe return of those missing. “Anguished by the capsizing of a boat in Andhra Pradesh’s East Godavari district. Condolences to the bereaved families. I pray for the safety of those missing,” he tweeted.



Culprits used skimmers to steal data from ATM’s


HYDERABAD: Nigerian gangs duping people through online frauds is passe. Now, Romanians are on the prowl, siphoning off money from bank accounts by cloning debit cards. After receiving complaints from 45 people about money being fraudulently withdrawn from their bank accounts using debit cards in Mumbai, Cyberabad police went to four ATM kiosks in Malad and Goregaon, where cash was withdrawn, and the two ATM centres in Kukatpally, where the complainants went to withdraw cash , and scanned the CCTV footage. In the footage, police saw foreigners, wearing caps or covering their faces, attaching skimmers to card slots to scan details of debit card when a customer swipes and fixing secret cameras to the machine dome above the key panel to record PIN number. The CCTVs also captured foreigners withdrawing cash between 11pm and 1am using the cloned cards to exploit daily cash withdrawal limit.


Police then checked with their counterparts of other states and discovered that Romanian gangs were indulging in debit card cloning and gathered details of Romanians visiting India during the particular period. Police also kept a watch on the Romanians visiting the particular ATM centres in Malad and Goregaon and caught one of the offenders when he came to withdraw cash. Based on the information given by him, another offender was caught from a guest house in Mumbai along with cash, cloned cards and other incriminating evidence. On interrogation, the duo confessed that Romanian and Bulgarian gangs had been resorting to debit card cloning frauds in India. The gang members travel in autos to zero in on ATMs in metros. They select kiosks without security. A gang member installs a skimmer, while the second one uninstalls it within a day. Another member clones the cards using data gathered in skimmer and video recorder, while the fourth member withdraws cash from ATMs. They confessed to have purchased the gadgets from an e-marketing portal.



Kolkata may be lashed by thunderstorm in next 48 hours



KOLKATA: Kolkata was left singed on Tuesday with the maximum temperature soaring to 33.8°C and the maximum humidity touching 90%. Though parts of north Bengal received thundershowers under the influence of a cyclonic circulation, south remained dry. But the Met office spied a thunderstorm in Kolkata in the next 48 hours. A cyclonic circulation stretched between eastern Bihar and north Bengal. It could move southward, predicted the Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC). “If it moves downwards, Kolkata and the neighbouring south Bengal districts could be lashed by thunderstorms either on Wednesday or Thursday,” said RMC director GK Das. While humidity soared to 90%, the city’s real feel temperature – calculated on the basis humidity, intensity of sun rays, wind speed, cloudiness and precipitation – touched 42°C at 4pm on Tuesday, according to a private weather forecasting service. “Since moisture incursion from the sea is happening on a regular basis, humidity has been high. This has made the conditions uncomfortable. It is due to the high humidity that thundershowers have been precipitated on a regular basis this season,” explained Das. Kolkata received five squalls in April and two this month so far, the last one being on May 13. The mercury had plunged by 10 degrees and humidity dropped below 60% after Sunday’s thunderstorm. “But they have spiraled up again. Unless we have another system-triggered storm, the mercury will rise. But we expect another relief by the middle of the week,” said Das.



International News



Taliban attacks Farah city in west Afghanistan



KABUL: Afghan officials say Taliban insurgents have attacked Farah city, the capital of Farah province in western Afghanistan near the border with Iran, killing and wounding dozens of security forces. Fared Bakhtawer, head of the Farah provincial council, says several security checkpoints were overrun by Taliban fighters on Tuesday morning and that an intense gun battle was ongoing in the city. Bakhtawer says up to 30 security forces were killed or wounded in the attacks. Mohammad Sarwar Osmani, a lawmaker form Farah province, also confirmed the Taliban attacks. Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, claimed responsibility. He said fighters launched attacks form multiple directions, after which they overran several checkpoints in the city. Farah also has border with Helmand province, where the Taliban controls several districts.



Israel strikes on Syria kill at least 23 fighters



BEIRUT: Israeli strikes on several areas of Syria overnight killed at least 23 fighters, including five Syrian regime troops and 18 other allied forces, a monitor said Thursday. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said an officer was among the regime troops killed in the strikes and that the casualties included foreigners. Israel’s army said it hit dozens of Iranian military targets in Syria. The Russian defence ministry, whose country has forces in Syria supporting the regime, said 28 Israeli warplanes took part in the raids and around 70 missiles were fired. Areas near Damascus as well as in the centre and southwest of the country were among the targets, the Observatory said. The strikes “caused human losses in a number of the targeted areas”, it said, adding the death toll was likely to rise.


Syria’s army announced a death toll of just three people. “A number of missiles of the Israeli enemy killed three people and wounded two others,” an army spokesman said on state television. The strikes also “destroyed a radar station and an arms depot, and inflicted material damage on a number of air force battalions”, it said. Israel said it targeted Syrian positions after rocket fire towards its forces in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights that it blamed on Iran. A senior military pro-regime source in Syria confirmed the salvo of rockets, but insisted Israel fired first. The strikes come after the Syrian army late Tuesday said it intercepted two Israeli missiles, while the Observatory said eight Iranians were among 15 foreign pro-regime fighters killed in that attack. Since the start of Syria’s civil war in 2011, Israel has repeatedly targeted positions of the Syrian army and Lebanon‘s Shiite movement Hezbollah backing it inside the country.

News Flash – 15 May 2018

National News



Storms kill more in 5 weeks than all of 2017

An uprooted tree from Sunday’s sudden storm is seen falling next to a vehicle, in Delhi.



NEW DELHI: Storms across the country have killed more people since April 11 than all of last year. Since Sunday, thunderstorms claimed 94 lives across six states, taking the death toll in storms since April to 278. Fatalities in the first two weeks of May stand at 223, while 55 people died in April. Last year, storms claimed 197 lives, while the toll in 2016 was 216. The figures are based on numbers collated by TOI and those provided by the India Meteorological Department (IMD). Met department scientists said the storms in north India in the past five weeks were unusual both in number and severity. The current pattern of wind currents resembles what’s usually seen in winter months. Outside of the monsoon season, rain and storm activity in north India take place under the influence of western disturbances, waves of air currents coming in from the Mediterranean. “We are seeing the winter pattern of western disturbances in summer this year. Ten western disturbances have affected north India in April-May, while it is usually three-four,” said M Mohapatra, director general (meteorology), IMD.


During winter, the pattern was the reverse. January, which usually gets the maximum number of western disturbances (WD) of about seven, saw just four this year. In December, when the second highest number of these disturbances rolls in, there was just one. In February, five WDs struck against a normal of six. So, the country got just 33% of its normal rainfall in January and February. “It’s not just the number of WDs that’s important. Whether a WD makes an impact or not depends on its position and intensity. Most of the WDs during the winter months struck in a northerly position, which impacted J&K at most. In the past five weeks, WDs have come in the right direction and intensity to have a big impact,” Mohapatra said. What caused this reversal of pattern is not clear, but the reasons probably lie in largescale weather features. Since the WDs originate around southern Europe, air currents in that region and in the Atlantic Ocean become important. “The reasons need to be studied. One factor that could be coming into play is the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), which is currently in the positive phase,” Mohapatra said.



Parents panic as child-lifters video goes viral; 5 beaten up



BENGALURU: Panic gripped several towns and villages bordering Andhra Pradesh after rumours about a gang of child kidnappers went viral on social media. The worst affected were Tumakuru and Ballari districts. The video circulated through WhatsApp went viral on Sunday as worried parents forwarded it. By evening, men carried logs and guarded lanes in remote places, anticipating an attack from the gang. Senior police officers visited these places and pacified the public. Confirming it was a rumour, ADGP Kamal Pant told TOI that SPs were directed to circulate a message on social media, saying the video was edited and originated from a foreign country. Divya Gopinath, SP, Tumakuru, said the video was circulated among villagers of Palavalli, Doddahalli, K Rampura and Ponnasamudra. “The rumour was that the kidnappers have come from Andhra Pradesh. I personally knew that it was an old and edited video. But we had a tough time convincing the villagers,” she said.


Meanwhile, four women, who had come to Ballari in search of jobs from Andhra Pradesh, were handed over to police. “These women were waiting at the bus stand at Sanganakal village in Ballari. Villagers suspected them to be the kidnappers and they were beaten up and handed over to police,” said police. “A similar incident took place in Sirguppa where a 45-year-old beggar was beaten up after mistaking him for a child-lifter,” said a senior police officer from Ballari. Times View: Researchers have proven that fake news and rumour is viral gold. The danger, though, lies in acting on it, as this fake kidnap incident shows. Researchers also found that it wasn’t bots, but human social media users who were responsible for the origin and spread of fake news. Reigning in pranksters and those out for a laugh is a difficult if not impossible task. The responsibility of reining in fake news, therefore, lies on those forwarding such messages, especially the educated. Forward if one must, but do so responsibly.



Anthrax scare hits village near Bandipur reserve



MYSURU: The anthrax scare has come back to haunt the wild animals of Bandipur Tiger Reserve this summer. At least ten heads of cattle died due to this disease at Shivapura village over the past two weeks. This small village in Gundlupet taluk, 8km from Melkammanahalli at the entrance to Bandipura Tiger Reserve, has triggered panic among villagers and wildlife activists as the disease can infect humans as well as mammals. In 2013, there was panic among forest officers after the death of cattle on the forest fringes due to anthrax. Even though the disease did not claim any wildlife that year, in 2004, elephants had died at Nagarahole Tiger Reserve and in Sathyamangalam forest bordering the BRT tiger reserve. The disease was first noticed after two heads of cattle belonging to Lokesh and one each of Shivamma and Subbappa died in the village. Later, six heads of cattle belonging to villagers DC Madappa, Prema, Siddaraju, Papa Shetty and Chinnabasappa died in the past week. There was one death on Monday too. All the cattle were cross-breeds. A few died in neighbouring Hundipura village. After the disease was detected, health and animal husbandry department officials started vaccination. Gundlupet government veterinary officer Dr Mallesh said due to drought over the past few years, the disease has spread. “Villagers may have buried dead animals near the lakes. As there was rain over the past few days, bacterial spores in the soil may have spread with rain water. As cattle graze near the lake, the disease spread,” he said.



Home Guard climbs hoarding, chaos hits traffic at Hyderabad flyover


HYDERABAD: Protesting against the dismissal of over 400 Home Guards, a man on Monday climbed a hoarding at Khairatabad in Hyderabad. He threatened to end his life but was later persuaded by the police to come down after hours of convincing. Home Guards are protesting against their dismissal, after putting years of services in erstwhile AP. After separating from Andhra Pradesh, Telangana government suspended their services. The home guards pleaded to take them back, but to no avail. They along with their families started protesting at Khairatanad flyover after not getting any response from the government. This created a near chaos like situation at the spot with traffic completely at standstill at Punjagutta cross roads.



Bengal’s bloodiest poll day claims 17 lives

supporters block road at Machibhanga on the day of panchayat election



KOLKATA: At least 17 people died as the state’s villages went to vote for the panchayat poll on Monday, making it the bloodiest day of a long season and keeping the 2018 rural vote true to Bengal’s tradition of blood-soaked election narratives. The first lives lost were that of a couple burnt in their sleep in South 24-Parganas’ Kakdwip, hours before the start of polling, and the death meter ticked with metronomic regularity almost every waking hour after that. Miscreants intimidated voters in queue, snatched ballot boxes and singed ballot papers, opened fire at political rivals, hurled bombs at cops and forced poll officials to leave booths at places, raising serious questions over the wisdom of the State Election Commission’s decision to hold the poll on a single day after the 2013 rural election saw a vote spread over five days. Monday’s toll was easily the highest 24-hour count in Bengal’s recent electoral history though state government officials argued that the figure was less than that seen during the 2013 panchayat poll, when 25 people died on the five days when polling took place. The SEC took cognizance of just six poll-related deaths and took recourse to the measuring tape to conclude six others were “non-poll deaths” as they occurred more than 200 metres away from polling booths. The union ministry of home affairs sought a report from the state government on the violence as opposition parties hit the street to protest against the SEC. The CPM staged a demonstration in front of the SEC office and the BJP knocked on Raj Bhavan’s doors to complain against the poll panel. The SEC said it was examining all the complaints and would take a call on re-poll based on a home department report. Many of the deaths have occurred in districts like Murshidabad, South 24-Parganas, Coochbehar, Nadia and Hooghly, which have also seen a disproportionately high number of Trinamool “walkover” winners. The opposition interpreted the bloodbath in these areas as a focused Trinamool bid to gain control over as many panchayat seats as possible ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.



Unconfirmed reports said a Trinamool Congress supporter was killed in Nadia’s Tehatta. Krishnapada Sarkar’s family members claimed he was targeted by opposition supporters. The deaths were also divided across parties, with the Trinamool claiming at least five of the dead as their own, indicating a tacit understanding among and counter-resistance by supporters of all opposition parties, including the BJP and the CPM. Senior Trinamool Congress minister Partha Chatterjee accused the opposition parties and Independents of ganging up against the ruling party. The five Trinamool men who died came from Nadia’s Shantipur and Nakashipara, South 24-Parganas’ Bhangar and North Dinajpur’s Raiganj. People standing in queue at a Shantipur booth lynched Trinamool worker Sanjit Pramanik as he tried to take control of the booth. The angry mob then chased away miscreants, who rode in on 12 motorbikes, and then set the bikes on fire. CPM supporters chased Trinamool worker Bhola Dafadar at Bilkumari in Nadia’s Nakashipara, took him to a neighbouring house’s roof and killed him. Another Trinamool worker, Arif Ali Gaji, was killed inside a Kultali polling booth; the Trinamool accused the SUCI, which denied the charge. Another Trinamool worker died in South Dinajpur’s Tapan. The challenge to the Trinamool came from varied sources, ranging from the Naxal-backed Save Land Livelihood Environment Protection Committee “Independents” in Bhangar to opposition-backed Independents in East Midnapore’s Nadigram and West Midnapore’s forest hamlets. West Burdwan’s Kanksa saw Trinamool “outsiders” being beaten back and West Midnapore’s Keshpur saw cops themselves being forced to retreat amid heavy brick-batting.


But it was the opposition that bore the brunt of the violence. CPM couple Debu and Usha Das were burnt to death in their sleep in Kakdwip, fueling tension in the area. Independent supporter Sahin Shiekh was killed and seven others had bullet wounds in Murshidand’s Naoda, Congress district leader Abu Taher’s turf. BJP activist Tapan Mandal was killed in Murshidabad’s Beldanga. CPM supporters Apu Manna and Jaggeswar Das fell to bullets fired by motorbike-borne Trinamool miscreants at Khodambari in East Mindapore’s Nandigram. BJP activist Tapan Mandal was killed in Murshidabad and, in North 24-Parganas’ Amdanga, CPM activist Toibur Gazi was killed in a clash with Trinamool men. Trinamool minister Rabindranath Ghosh went to a Coochbehar booth and slapped a BJP polling agent, who ran out of the booth to seek his protection after being driven out by Trinamool men. Trinamool supporters damaged ballot boxes and papers in Jyangra, on Kolkata’s northern fringes, in Jalpaiguri’s Rajganj as well as in Murshidabad’s Beldanga and Rejinagar and Birbhum’s Mohammadbazar. Ballot boxes were taken away from polling booths in Hooghly’s Pursura and Tarakeshwar. And, in East Burdwan’s Memari, once a CPM bastion where the party could not even field candidates for the zilla parishad this time, Trinamool men snatched ballot boxes from Kabirpur Primary School. Similar reports came in from Chandrakona and Egra’s Jhumki.



International News



Indonesia bombings: 8-year-old among attackers as second family targets cops

Cops guard the police headquarters in Surabaya, Indonesia.



SURABAYA: A family of Islamist militants in Indonesia carried an eight-year-old into a suicide bomb attack against police in Surabaya on Monday, a day after another militant family killed 13 people in suicide attacks on three churches in the same city. The suicide bombers rode two motorbikes up to a checkpoint outside a police station and blew themselves up, police chief Tito Karnavian told a news conference in Indonesia’s second-largest city. He said the child survived the explosion. Four officers and six civilians were wounded in the attack, East Java police spokesman Frans Barung Mangera said. “We hope the child will recover. We believe she was thrown 3 metres or so up into the air by the impact of the explosion,” said Mangera, adding she had been rushed to hospital. President Joko Widodo branded the attacks in Surabaya the “act of cowards”, and pledged to push through a new anti-terrorism bill to combat Islamist militant networks. After some major successes tackling Islamist militancy since 2001, there has been a resurgence in recent years, including in January 2016 when four suicide bombers and gunmen attacked a shopping area in Jakarta.


Police suspected Sunday’s attacks on the churches were carried out by a cell of the Islamic State-inspired group Jemaah Ansharut Daulah, an umbrella organisation on a US state department terrorist list that is reckoned to have drawn hundreds Indonesian sympathizers of IS. The father of the family involved in those attacks was the head of a JAD cell in the city, Karnavian said. Earlier, police said his family was among 500 IS sympathizers who had returned from Syria, but the police chief said that was incorrect. During the hunt for the cell, police shot dead four suspects and arrested nine, media reported police as saying. The police chief said the JAD cell may have been answering a call from Islamic State in Syria to “cells throughout the world to mobilise”. In another incident in Sidoarjo, south of Surabaya, police recovered pipe bombs at an apartment where an explosion killed three members of a family alleged to have been making bombs, Karnavian said. Three children from the family survived and were taken to hospital. In all, 31 people have died since Sunday in attacks, including 13 suspected perpetrators and 14 civilians, police said. Security experts said the attacks represented the first time in Indonesia that children had been used by militants on a suicide mission. “The objective of using a family for terror acts is so it is not easily detected by the police,” said security analyst Stanislaus Riyanta.



Over 8,000 people affected by Sri Lanka flash floods

View of a neighborhood destroyed after being flooded by the Cauca river in Puerto Valdivia municipality, Antioquia department, Colombia.



COLOMBO: Over 8,000 people in Sri Lanka have been affected by torrential rains and flash floods that have wreaked havoc in the island nation, officials said. Several people were evacuated from their homes due to the heavy downpour yesterday but as the rains ceased this morning, the situation was normalising, Disaster Management Centre’s spokesperson Pradeep Kodippilli said. Around 8,377 individuals in the Galle and Kalutara Districts have been affected with the flood situation due to torrential rains received yesterday, the centre said. Nearly 7,742 people in Galle District and 635 people in Kalutara District were affected with the flood situation, Kodippilli was quoted as saying by the Daily Mirror. The flood situation is gradually improving at the moment, he said, adding that no casualties or damages were reported but those living in low areas have been asked to be vigilant. Meanwhile, Meteorology Department said showers or thundershowers will occur over most provinces in the island. It said showers will occur in the Western and Southern provinces and in the Puttalam District, the report said. Sri Lanka, which has been heavily deforested for cash crops, often witnesses landslides during the monsoon season. Last year, heavy floods and landslides triggered by the worst rainfall killed at least 92 people and left 110 missing. Over 20,000 people had been displaced in seven districts as the south western monsoon caused havoc, destroying hundreds of homes and cutting off several roads.



Ten die in Bangladesh stampede for alms ahead of Ramzan, 50 hurt



CHITTAGONG: A stampede on Monday by thousands of poor villagers outside the home of a businessman distributing alms ahead of Ramzan killed at least 10 women and injured about 50 people, police in southeast Bangladesh said. It is a custom for devout Muslims to donate money or goods to the poor before or during the holy fasting month of Ramzan, which is expected to begin on Wednesday or Thursday this week. The stampede began after people jostled to collect clothes and other items at the residence of the owner of a steel mill, said police official Rafiqul Alamin the district of Chittagong, about 260 km (165 miles) from Dhaka, the capital. “There were 10,000 to 12,000 people, mostly women and trying to push to each other to collect alms ahead of other and that led stampede,” he told Reuters.



Gaza erupts as US opens Jerusalem embassy, Israel kills 52 Palestinians

Palestinians protest near the Gaza-Israel border on Monday against the US move to shift its embassy to Jerusalem.



GAZA CITY: Israeli soldiers shot and killed at least 52 Palestinians during mass protests along the Gaza border on Monday. It was the deadliest day there since a devastating 2014 cross-border war and cast appall over Israel’s festive inauguration of the new US embassy in contested Jerusalem. In a show of anger fueled by the embassy move, protesters set tyres on fire, sending plumes of black smoke into the air, and hurled firebombs and stones toward Israeli troops across the border. The Israeli military said its troops had come under fire, and accused protesters of trying to break through the border fence. It said troops shot and killed three Palestinians who were trying to plant a bomb. The steadily climbing death toll and wall-to-wall condemnation of the embassy move by the Arab world raised new doubts about US President Trump’s ambitions to broker what he once said would be the West Asia’s “deal of the century.” By late afternoon, at least 52 Palestinians, including five minors, were killed, the Gaza health ministry said. One of the minors was identified as a girl. At least 1,204 protesters were wounded, including 116 in serious or critical condition. The statement says about 1,200 others suffered other types of injuries, including from tear gas.


At the embassy ceremony in Jerusalem, Trump son-in-law and chief West Asia adviser Jared Kushner placed the blame on the Gaza protesters. “As we have seen from the protests of the last month and even today those provoking violence are part of the problem and not part of the solution,” he said. Kushner and Trump daughter Ivanka led a high-powered American delegation that also included the treasury secretary and four Republican senators. The new embassy will temporarily operate from an existing United States consulate, until a decision has been made on a permanent location. In Gaza, the Hamas-led protest was meant to be the biggest yet in a weeks-long campaign against a decade-old blockade of the territory. The Israeli military estimated a turnout of about 40,000, saying this fell short of what Hamas had hoped for. The march was also directed at the inauguration of the embassy. Moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – a key Trump campaign promise – infuriated the Palestinians, who seek east Jerusalem as a future capital. Monday marked the biggest showdown in years between Israel’s military and Gaza’s Hamas rulers along the volatile border. The sides have largely observed a ceasefire since the 2014 war – their third in a decade.


The protests mark the culmination of a campaign, led by Hamas and fueled by despair among Gaza’s 2 million people, to break the blockade of the territory imposed by Israel and Egypt after Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007. Since weekly border marches began in March, 83 Palestinian protesters have been killed and more than 2,500 wounded by Israeli army fire. Hamas said four members, including three security men, were among the dead on Monday. “We say clearly today to all the world that the peaceful march of our people lured the enemy into shedding more blood,” senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said. Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas condemned Israeli “massacres” along the Gaza border. Abbas, who declared three days of mourning, also said “the US is no longer a mediator in the Middle East (West Asia),” and the new embassy was tantamount to “a new American settler outpost” in Jerusalem. However, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel’s actions on the Gaza border were self-defence against the enclave’s ruling Hamas group. “Every country has an obligation to defend its borders,” he tweeted.

News Flash – 14 May 2018

National News




Maharashtra Security Force jawan Sachin Pol’s bravery and presence of mind has been noted by his bosses. He will either get a raise or a fat cash reward.


Mumbai: A Maharashtra Security Force jawan is being hailed a hero after he risked his life to save a toddler from being run over by a train at Western Railway’s Mahalaxmi station on Friday evening. Sachin Pol had merely 2.3 seconds between sensing the danger to the girl’s life and grabbing her as she slipped out of her mother’s grasp. The woman had boarded the train with her husband (see video grabs). As he managed to pull the girl away from the gap between the platform and the running train, he himself almost went under. Both Pol and the girl suffered minor bruises and were administered first aid at the station’s medical room. Mohammad Dishaan, the father of the five-year-old, along with his wife were on their way back home to Bhiwandi after visiting the Haji Ali shrine when they tried to board a running train. While Dishaan and his wife managed to get in, the girl’s hand slipped out of her mother’s grip and she fell face down. Pol, who can be seen in the video seated on his desk and watching the couple trying to board the train, reacted with admirable speed and pulled the girl out from under the train.


Talking to Mumbai Mirror from his home in Bhiwandi, Dishaan said his wife is new to Mumbai and does not know how quickly Mumbai locals gain speed. “I was walking ahead and she was holding our daughter’s hand. The train was stationary when we went to board it, but then it started moving and picked up speed. I will be eternally grateful to the man who saved my daughter’s life,” he said. Pol is a resident of Lower Parel and has been in Maharashtra Security Force’s employment for only two years now. He makes Rs 14,000 a month. His bravery, however, will either earn him a raise or a fat reward. Principal Chief Security Commissioner, Western Railway, A K Singh, has reviewed the video and is impressed with Pol’s bravery and presence of mind. “He will be rewarded suitably,” Singh said.



Strongest thunderstorm of season disrupts life in Delhi-NCR

According to Met officials, the highest wind speed during the squall was recorded at 109km/hr at Safdarjung, followed closely by Palam at 96km/hr.



NEW DELHI/GURUGRAM/NOIDA: A squall and dust storm with a wind speed of up to 109 kmph barreled through Delhi and neighbouring areas on Sunday, affecting flight, rail and metro operations and uprooting trees. At least four people died and 26 were injured in the national capital region. According to Met officials, the highest wind speed during the squall was recorded at 109km/hr at Safdarjung, followed closely by Palam at 96km/hr. Dark grey clouds started gathering around 3pm and, within an hour, much of Delhi, Gurugram and Noida were plunged into darkness. People rushed for cover even as the strong winds and poor visibility affected traffic. Officials from the regional met office confirmed that this was the “strongest” thunderstorm activity in the past few weeks.



“The storm was quite intense, but it cleared up in a matter of hours. Such activity is common during this time of the season as Delhi has high temperatures and easterly winds with moisture are blowing. We also had a western disturbance affecting the region that led to the thunderstorm,” a senior met official said. Another spell of light rain is predicted in parts of the capital on Monday. “There will be light rain in some parts of the city on Monday, with most of the activity taking place in the afternoon or evening. However, we are not expecting wind speeds like we did on Sunday. The maximum should drop to 38 degrees Celsius on Monday,” the official said. The capital’s maximum temperature during the day had touched 40.8 degrees Celsius at Safdarjung and 41.3 degrees Celsius at Palam — before the sudden change in the weather. Till 5.30pm, Safdarjung had recorded 4.2mm of rainfall while Palam received 0.8mm during the same period. At least two loss of lives were reported in Delhi. Police said Sumwati Devi (56) was killed when a tree branch fell on her head near Patpargunj in east Delhi. She was taken to a hospital where she died during treatment, police said. Devi, a widow, is survived by her son. In another incident, a 19-year-old Rohit died in southeast Delhi’s Jaitpur when construction material fell on him. Delhi Police said they had received 255 PCR calls about trees falling on the road. Till late night, 75 trees were removed, officials added. As many as 75 poles came crashing and 61 cases of tin sheds/brick-roof wall collapse were reported, police said. “We enhanced night deployment and have kept quick-reaction teams ready.


The helplines will be kept active through the night. We have been getting calls about obstructions on roads, which are being addressed individually,” Garima Bhatnagar, joint commissioner, traffic, said. The inclement weather interrupted the launch of a 140 kWp rooftop solar plant at IP Extension attended by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. In Ghaziabad, at least one person was killed and six injured in different incidents. The deceased was identified as Rajkumar alias Raju (40) of Bulandshahr. According to police, Raju was killed when a tree uprooted by the strong winds fell on his car in Lal Kuan area. “Four other persons were injured in the incident,” police said. In a separate incident, two minor girls, aged 13 and 15 years, respectively, were injured in Pasonda village in Sahibabad as the wall of a house collapsed on them. In Noida, a 42-year-old woman died and her son was injured after a large hoarding collapsed on their bike during the dust storm in Noida Extension on Sunday evening. The woman was identified as Jaimun Nisha, a resident of Haibatpur village in Bisrakh. Her son Imran (21) is undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Noida. Gurugram, too, was greeted with a storm, followed by sporadic showers. Visibility was totally obscured by dust whipped up by heavy winds. Residents had to close their windows and doors to keep the dust off their rooms. The situation was severe in new sectors, where winds whipped up clouds of dust from the vast open fields that sprawl across the area. In several places, the wind also knocked down trees.



4 killed in lightning strike; Crop in Andhra Pradesh, Telangana take a beating



HYDERABAD/ VISAKHAPATNAM : Unseasonal rains accompanied by thunder claimed 14 lives in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh on Sunday. While nine people died and three were injured in Andhra Pradesh, five people, mostly farmers, died in Telangana in separate incidents of lightning strikes. This is the single largest casualty because of lightning strike in Telugu states on a single day in the last three years. Standing crops, spread over hundreds of acres, particularly mango, were hit hard by unseasonal rains and heavy gale. Srikakulam district was the worst affected with six people succumbing to lightning strike, followed by Mancherial district with three deaths, Kadapa and Vikarabad districts with two each, and Vizianagaram with one. All the three killed in lightning in Mancheryil district were farmers, who rushed to fields to cover their paddy produce from rain with polythene covers. The identity of two people killed in Avunupalli village of Dharoor mandal in Vikarabad district is yet to established. The victims in Mancherial have been identified as R Rajaiah, K Bapu and J Ramesh. Episodes of lightning have increased of late in Telugu states. Lightning deaths are now covered under the national calamity relief. A report from Srikakulam said a fisherman, T Appala Narsaiah, 58, was struck by lightning while catching fish in a pond at Peddakollivalasa village of LN Peta mandal. Many places in north coastal Andhra, except Visakhapatnam city, received moderate to heavy rains on Sunday. Visakhapatnam, however, experienced cloudy weather. Mango, cashew and banana plantations were the worst affected due to heavy wind and rain. District collectors have been directed to send revenue teams to estimate loss due to rains.



Hyderabad: SBI ATM dispenses torn Rs 2,000 notes



HYDERABAD: An SBI ATM machine dispensed torn and smudged Rs 2,000 currency notes on Friday night much to the shock of a businessman, who promptly filed a complaint with Vanasthalipuram police on Saturday. Though no case has been registered yet, a police official said: “We will forward the complaint to the State Bank of India’s branch concerned to resolve the matter on Monday”. Srikar Aditya withdrew Rs 10,000 from the ATM of Vanasthalipuram branch. “I was really shocked at the condition of the currency. Of the five Rs 2,000 notes, two notes were torn with one stickers tagged to it, two others were smeared with ink and some liquid and the other one had some letters and numbers missing on one side of the note,” he said. “As none of the notes is useful, I tried to deposit the cash in the deposit machine but in vain,” said Aditya. He also tried to exchange the currency notes at shops, but none of the vendors was ready to accept them. Aditya then tweeted the matter on the official SBI account, explaining his plight and filed a written complaint at Vanasthalipuram police station. “Currency notes entered into ATMs are checked for quality and authenticity. Hence, the chances of a mutilated note being disbursed from our ATM are negligible. Please note, you may exchange a mutilated note at any of our branches,” State Bank of India @TheOfficialSBI replied to Aditya’s tweet.



Thunderstorm lashes Kolkata, eight deaths reported from three districts



KOLKATA: A huge cloud mass that engulfed the Kolkata sky later broke open lashing Kolkata with a thunderstorm pushing the mercury to nose dive by 10 degrees on Sunday. The city also recorded a rainfall of 23.5 mm in about one and half hours. With thunder and lightning, the cloud burst open over the city along a gusty wind. Trees were uprooted at some places, tram lines got snapped and lighting struck a three storey residential building in Sinthee, luckily none was injured. The storm also disrupted flight schedules. Lighting killed at least eight in the state – five in Howrah, two in West Midnapore and one in Murshidabad by the thunderstorm that affected most parts of South Bengal on Sunday. Around 1.20 pm the regional Meteorological Centre (RMC) Kolkata had issued a thunderstorm alert for Kolkata, Howrah and Hooghly to hit these places within the next three hours. By around 2 pm the city had plunged into pitch darkness under the influence of the thick clouds. The sky opened up it came pouring down by 3 pm. “The cloud mass that had a height of 12 km and width of 30 km was generated over Hooghly, Nadia and North 24 Parganas. It moved towards the city at a slow pace in the absence of very strong wind. That is how the rain lingered,” said GK Das director (weather) at RMC Kolkata.


A squall passed over the city at 3.25 pm with a wind speed of 52 kmph. But the wind speed slowed gradually sparing trees from getting uprooted, baring one in Santoshpur. An electric lamp post also caught fire in Santoshpur in Sibtala Maathunder ward number 103. A fire tender doused the fire. Power connection to the locality was snapped. An east to west trough line from Uttar Pradesh extending up to Nagaland across Bengal and Bihar had pushed up the thunder cloud formation. Almost all southern districts of Bengal received wide moderate rainfall. There was hail storm in places of Hooghly and Howrah. The downpour left some stretches in the city under ankle deep water. Lightning struck a three storey building on 3/4C D Gupta Lane under Sinthee police station. No one was however injured. “Since the surface has already cooler chances of convective cloud formation is less on Monday in Gangetic West Bengal unless some system develops over Bihar and Jharkhand,” said Das.



Pay fine in 48 hours or have traffic police on your doorstep



CHENNAI: The next time you are booked and fined for a traffic violation and fail to pay the required sum within 48 hours, you could see a posse of men or women in khaki knocking on your door armed with summons. The police plan to introduce the system from Sunday evening. The cashless mode of paying up fines for traffic violations has become a hit with police data saying more than 50% of the offenders having completed the transaction online within 24 hours. “The feedback has been positive,” said a senior officer. Now, with a 48-hour deadline set to pay fines, the police expect more to comply. “We are going a little slow in booking cases as our personnel have to adopt the new system,” said and officer. A system to identify and track defaulters has been created. As soon as a field officer enters details of the violator, the data will feed into a computer at the control room and an e-challan will be spewed out in a few minutes. A police officer said, “The computer will prepare a list of defaulters, who failed to pay their fine amount within 48 hours that is two days”. The list will be generated every day and a deputy commissioner and an assistant commissioner in the traffic planning cell will keep tabs. The traffic planning cell will prepare summons to be served to all defaulters. Law and order personnel will be roped in to identify regular defaulters. “We are working in tandem with the transport department to bring in the default list along with their licensing data, so that more defaulters can be dealt with separately by suspending their licenses too for making frequent offences”.



International News



Indonesia’s ‘militant’ family attacks churches, 13 killed

Firefighters try to douse a blaze at the Pentecost Church in Surabaya.



SURABAYA (INDONESIA): Coordinated suicide bombings carried out by members of the same family struck three churches in Indonesia‘s second-largest city on Sunday, police said, as the world’s most populous Muslim nation recoiled in horror at one of its worst attacks since the 2002 Bali bombings. At least seven people died at the churches in Surabaya along with the six family members, the youngest of whom were girls aged 9 and 12, according to police. Another 41 people were injured. Indonesia’s president condemned the attacks as “barbaric”. National police chief Tito Karnavian said that the father detonated a car bomb, two sons aged 18 and 16 used a motorcycle for their attack, and the mother and her two daughters wore explosives. Karnavian said the family had returned to Indonesia from Syria, where until recently the Islamic State terror group controlled significant territory. IS claimed responsibility for the attacks in a statement carried by its Aamaq news agency. It didn’t mention anything about families or children taking part and said there were only three attackers. Indonesia’s deadliest terrorist attack occurred in 2002, when bombs exploded on the tourist island of Bali, killing 202 people in one night, mostly foreigners. But the fact that children were involved in Sunday’s attacks in Surabaya shocked and angered the country. Jemaah Islamiyah, the network responsible for the Bali attacks, was obliterated by a sustained crackdown on militants by Indonesia’s counterterrorism police with US and Australian support. A new threat has emerged in recent years, inspired by IS attacks abroad.


Experts on militant networks have warned for several years that the estimated 1,100 Indonesians who travelled to Syria to join IS posed a threat if they returned home. Karnavian identified the father as Dita Futrianto and said he was head of the Surabaya cell of Jemaah Anshorut Daulah, an Indonesian militant network affiliated with IS that has been implicated in attacks in Indonesia in the past year. He identified the mother as Puji Kuswati. The attacks occurred within minutes of each other, according to Surabaya police spokesman Frans Barung Mangera. Karnavian said Futrianto drove a bomb-laden car into the city’s Pentecostal church. Kuswati, with her two daughters, attacked the Christian Church of Diponegoro, he said. Based on their remains, Karnavian said the mother and daughters were all wearing explosives around their waists. The sons rode a motorcycle onto the grounds of the Santa Maria Church and detonated their explosives there. A witness said the woman arrived at the Diponegoro church carrying two bags. “At first officers blocked them in front of the churchyard, but the woman ignored them and forced her way inside. Suddenly, she hugged a civilian, then (the bomb) exploded,” said the witness, a security guard. At Santa Maria, a Catholic church, a witness said, “I saw two men riding a motorbike force their way into the churchyard. Soon after that, the explosion happened”.



At least six dead as bomb, gun battle rages in Afghan city

Smoke rises from the site of a blast.



JALALABAD: At least six civilians were killed when terrorists detonated bombs and stormed a government building on Sunday in an ongoing assault in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, officials said, underscoring deteriorating security in the country. There were two explosions near the city’s directorate of finance, the Nangarhar provincial governor’s spokesman Attaullah Khogyani told AFP, adding that “a number of attackers” had entered the building. “Security forces are in the area chasing and fighting them,” he said. “So far six civilians (have been) killed and 33 wounded. One attacker is also down. The clearing operation is ongoing”. “Around noon a big boom shook our building,” Qaisar, an employee, told AFP from a Jalalabad hospital. “I then saw at least two armed attackers entering the building. My friends ran to hide and I jumped from a window. “I have broken my leg and arm but was able to get out of the building. Some of my friends are still stuck there”. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. Jalalabad is the capital of restive Nangarhar, which borders Pakistan. Some areas of the province are a stronghold of the Islamic State group but Taliban fighters are also active there. It was the latest deadly violence to strike Afghanistan as terrorist groups step up attacks and US-backed Afghan forces intensify air strikes and ground offensives. The assault comes days after suicide bombers and gunmen launched apparently coordinated attacks on two Kabul police stations on Wednesday, killing at least ten people.


April saw a series of attacks across the country targeting voter registration centres as Afghanistan gears up for long-delayed legislative elections due in October. The Taliban and IS have made clear their intentions to disrupt the elections. Officials are concerned that a low voter turnout will undermine the credibility of the poll. The Taliban recently launched their annual spring offensive, in an apparent rejection of a peace talks overture by the Afghan government. Their Operation Al Khandaq will target US forces and “their intelligence agents” as well as their “internal supporters”, a Taliban statement said on April 25. But the Islamic State group has also stepped up their attacks in recent months, particularly in Kabul. Nine journalists, including AFP’s chief photographer in Kabul Shah Marai, were among the 25 people killed in a double suicide blast claimed by IS in the capital on April 30. Kabul has become one of the deadliest places in the country for civilians as security forces struggle to keep the militants at bay following the withdrawal of NATO combat forces at the end of 2014.

News Flash – 10 May 2018

National News



Over 9,600 charge sheeted; 1,699 jailed for drunk driving in Hyderabad



HYDERABAD: As many as 1,699 persons were sent to prison on charge of drunk driving in Hyderabad, with traffic cops filing over 9,600 charge sheets for the violations between January and April this year. The Hyderabad Traffic Police(HTP), which regularly conducts a special drive against the menace of drunk driving has filed 9,648 charge sheets against drivers after they were caught driving drunk, a senior official said. “From January till April this year a total of 9,648 charge sheets were filed against persons driving in an inebriated state under Hyderabad Police Commissionerate. Out of it 1,699 persons were imprisoned for one to 30 days for drunk driving,” Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Anil Kumar said. A total of 2.53 crore fine was imposed on the drunk drivers. The remaining violators were imposed with fines by the courts depending on the results of blood alcohol content (BAC) when they were subjected to breathe analyser tests, he said adding as many as 32 women drivers were also caught during the drives against drunken driving and they were only fined. “Drunken driving is dangerous not only to the drunken driver but it is also dangerous to the lives of other motorists and pedestrians.


That’s why Hyderabad Traffic Police takes it very seriously and conducts special drives on different days to ensure that Hyderabad roads are safe,” Kumar told PTI. The courts suspended the driving licences of 681 people for a period ranging from three months to five years while driving licences of 69 were cancelled, he said. The top traffic police requested the public to cooperate and not to resort to driving vehicles in drunken state as many accidents including fatal ones were reported earlier in the city. On other traffic violations reported during the period of January to April this year, Kumar said around 11 lakh cases were booked for helmet rule violations. Last year, over 25 lakh cases were registered against two-wheeler riders for not wearing a helmet, he said. As many as 1,343 minor driving cases were booked, 4,800 cases for cell phone driving, 18,400 for triple riding and 18043 cases for improper number plates, he added.



Kolkata overcast but dry, Met spies thunderstorm today


KOLKATA: The city remained overcast even as the districts of East Midnapore, Birbhum and Murshidabad were lashed by severe thunderstorms on Thursday. With a thick cloud cover hanging over the city since late morning, the maximum temperature dropped to 33.9 degrees Celsius, a notch below normal. But the cloud-cover turned out to be deceptive. The city didn’t receive rain, but the Met office has predicted a thunderstorm on Friday. The thick clouds had sailed into Kolkata from the areas that were lashed by thunderstorms, said G K Das, director of Regional Meteorological Centre. “But they were not rain-bearing ones so the city remained dry. But we have a low-pressure trough across the state which could trigger a thunderstorm on Friday,” said Das. A low-pressure trough extends north Bengal to Odisha could trigger a thunderstorm in Kolkata. It has already triggered thunderstorms across the north Bengal districts. “The conditions will turn ripe for a storm on Friday,” added Das.


Frequent thundershowers have made the heat bearable this summer, according to the Met office. As many as five squalls hit the city in April, apart from another half a dozen that lashed the neighbouring districts. It helped keep the mercury in check. For the first time since 2015, the maximum temperature hasn’t touched 38 degrees Celsius till May 9. The highest recorded in Kolkata so far this season has been 37.6 degrees Celsius. In 2015, Kolkata had recorded a temperature of 37.5 degrees Celsius on April 11, which was the highest till mid-May. That apart, maximum temperature in Kolkata has always crossed 38 degrees by the first week of May. This has been the trend of the last five years. Met officers felt frequent thunderstorms and squall have been responsible for this. “This season we have had a regular flow of moisture and heating over the Jharkhand area which trigger thunderstorms. Also, there have been cyclonic circulations aiding the process,” said Das. He said thunderstorms might continue in May which usually isn’t a bad month for squalls. But in case they disappear, so far there has been no squall in May, the temperature may shoot.



Fire at Martin Burn building

Four fire tenders were used to douse the flames.



KOLKATA: A fire broke out on the fourth floor of the Martin Burn building located opposite the Kolkata Police headquarters in Lalbazar and a few metres away from a fire station on Wednesday morning. According to fire department officers, a short-circuit in an AC triggered the blaze but the exact cause can only be ascertained after a forensic examination. Though the extent of damage was limited to a few office premises, the impunity with which the offices have been operating by flouting fire-fighting norms right under the nose of the authorities, has raised several eyebrows. Around 9am, people inside the building noticed smoke coming out of room number 40, which houses the office of a stock broker. In a few minutes the entire facade of the building was covered in black smoke. “Our men used breathing apparatus to enter the building and locate the origin of the blaze. It seems that a short circuit in an AC caused the fire,” an officer said. This is not the first time a fire has broken out inside the Martin Burn building, which has more than 30 offices located inside it. According to figures provided by the fire department there have been at least four blazes in the building since 2010 and almost all of them have been due to electrical short-circuit. Even on Wednesday, the fire officers found the electrical wiring in a mess. “Most electrical fires occur due to faulty wiring or lack of maintenance,” the officer said. An estate manager in the building, however, said the management carries out safety audit of the building from time to time.



Lynching of Chennai woman: Tiruvannamalai police arrest 23 men



TIRUVANNAMALAI: The Tiruvannamalai police have arrested 23 men in connection with the attack on a group of people that left a woman dead and four others injured. Locals attacked the five people from Chennai – who came in a car to their family temple at Thambikottan Paarai near Polur – mistaking them for child lifters. The lynching happened at Athimoor on Wednesday morning. On Wednesday afternoon, the police picked up 33 men and 10 women for inquiry in connection with the killing of Rukhmani of Old Pallavaram in Chennai and inflicting serious injuries on four others. Tiruvannamalai superintendent of police R Ponni said they had registered a case against 23 men under sections 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), 294 (b) (obscene acts and using abusive language) , 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), 307 (punishment for attempt to murder) and 302 (punishment for murder) read with Section 3 of Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act 1984 (for damaging a victim’s car).


Siva, who had telephoned his friends in Athimoor and spread wrong information about the victims, was one of the prime accused in the case, said the SP. Siva telephoned a few of the residents and allegedly told them that a group of five, including a woman, had tried to kidnap his two daughters after giving them chocolates. This led to the Wednesday’s lynching incident, added the police. R Gajendran, the car driver and resident of Old Pallavaram, who was in a critical condition, S Mohankumar, 45, and Chandrasekaran, 33, were shifted to the Christian Medical College Hospital from the Government Vellore Medical College Hospital for further treatment. Venkatesan’s family members got him discharged from Government Vellore Medical College and took him to Chennai.



Gas pipeline in Vadaj catches fire

Fire department officials said that three fighters from Memnagar fire station rushed to the spot to control the fire.



AHMEDABAD: A major fire was reported was reported in the PNG pipeline of the Adani Gas near the 132-Foot Ring Road in Vadaj. The incident took place late in the night. The flames were visible from a far off distance. Fire department officials said that three fighters from Memnagar fire station rushed to the spot to control the fire. The officials said that the Adani gas was asked immediately to shut the supply of the gas in the area. Officials said that there was a CNG pump also in the vicinity of the area and hence they officials did not take any risk. The officials said that there was also a high tension line passing near the area. The officials said that the primarily the reason for the fire was a spark in the electric line passing near gas pipeline.



International News



At least 41 killed as dam bursts in Kenya, officials say



NAIROBI: A dam burst its banks in Kenya‘s Rift Valley, killing at least 41 people and forcing hundreds from their homes, officials said on Thursday. At least 20 of the dead were children, police said. Water burst through the banks of the Patel Dam in Solai, Nakuru County, on Wednesday night, sweeping away hundreds of homes, including those on the expansive Nyakinyua estate that borders the reservoir. “Many people are missing. It is a disaster,” said Rongai town police chief Joseph Kioko. Nearly 170 people have now died since March from floods caused by seasonal rains, according to Kenyan authorities. The floods hit as the East African nation was recovering from a severe drought that affected half of the country. Almost an entire village was swept away by silt and water from the burst dam, said Gideon Kibunja, the county police chief in charge of criminal investigations. Officials said homes over a radius of nearly 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) were submerged. Close to 40 people were rescued from the mud and taken to hospitals on Thursday morning in operations by Kenya Red Cross and Nakuru County disaster management teams. The area has seven dams used by a commercial farm, said Keffa Mageni, an official with an advocacy group that helps to resettle displaced people. With the heavy seasonal rains the dams do not have an outlet, he said.


“There are two other dams which are leaking,” one resident, Stephen Nganga, said. He asked the government to investigate them for the residents’ safety. Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi visited the scene Thursday and said the government had launched investigations to determine the stability of the six other dams. More than 225,000 people in Kenya have been displaced from their homes since March, according to the government. Military helicopters and personnel in the past week have been deployed to rescue people marooned by the flooding. The dam burst has again raised concerns about the state of Kenya’s infrastructure. The National Construction Authority in the past has blamed contractors of bypassing building codes to save on cost. In April 2016 a residential building in the capital, Nairobi, collapsed during rains, killing 52 people. Last May the wall of a hospital collapsed due to rains, killing six people in Kenya’s second largest city, Mombasa.



Blasts rock Afghan capital of Kabul, casualties feared



KABUL: Three blasts hit the Afghan capital of Kabul in rapid succession on Wednesday and gunfire then broke out, police and interior ministry officials said. Police said one blast was near a police station in the centre of the city and casualties were feared. A suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance of the police station in central Kabul in an area near foreign embassies and government offices, an interior ministry official said. “We are rushing ambulances to the blast site and cordoning off the entire area,” said police spokesman Hashmat Stanekzai. Dozens of people have been killed in suicide attacks in Kabul in recent weeks, including twin blasts on April 30 that killed 26 people including nine journalists. The Afghan capital has seen an increase in bombings and other attacks against the security forces and civilians since the Taliban announced the beginning of their spring offensive on April 25.



Three injured in knife attack on South Africa mosque: Security company



VERULAM, SOUTH AFRICA: Attackers armed with guns and knives struck a mosque outside the South African city of Durbanon Thursday, slashing the throats of three people and seriously injuring them, a private security company told AFP. The three attackers escaped in a Hyundai car from the Imam Hussain mosque in Verulam town on the outskirts of Durban. Prem Balram, spokesman for Reaction Unit South Africa, said he had arrived at the mosque to find two victims covered in blood lying in the forecourt of the mosque. He said a third victim had been attacked inside the building, which was then set alight and had jumped up of a window. “Eyewitnesses said three attackers with guns had used knives to slit the victims’ throats. One knife was left behind,” Balram said, speaking from the scene. “There have been theft and robbery incidents at mosques before, but not like this when nothing appears to have been taken”. He said all the three were seriously injured, with two in a critical condition. They were rushed to nearby government and private hospitals. The police confirmed the incident but gave no further details. South Africa has a history of relative religious tolerance. About 1.5 per cent of the country’s population is Muslim.

News Flash – 9 May 2018

National News



Sleeping in ambulance, 2 men charred in fire, another in ICU



NEW DELHI: A fire, which police speculate was fanned by Monday night’s dust storm, took the lives of two men sleeping in an ambulance in Sheikh Sarai. A third man, badly injured by the fire, is on ventilator support at Safdarjung Hospital. A mosquito coil burning in the vehicle in which the men were sleeping may have set the foaming seating aflame. The strong winds stoked the fire and spread it to two other ambulances parked on either side. The fire broke out close to midnight on Monday night. According to family members, the men had never earlier slept in the ambulance, which was parked in a DDA park in Sheikh Sarai in south Delhi. Rahul Saxena (24) and Guddu (24) were burnt to death while asleep in the back seat. Subodh (40) is battling for life in hospital with 98% burns. The cops conjectured that the men lost consciousness when the burning foam emitted noxious gases and so could not escape the blaze. “At least four fire tenders were rushed to the spot and it took half an hour to douse the flames,” said a Delhi Fire Service officer. He added that they had retrieved two charred bodies from the ambulance, while the third man, badly burnt, was taken to hospital by the police control room van. Police said that a case against unknown persons was registered at Malviya Nagar police station for negligent conduct with respect to fire or combustible matter (Section 285 of the Indian Penal Code), causing grievous hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others (338) and causing death due to negligence(304 A).


Romil Baaniya, DCP (South), said that a Central Forensic Science Laboratory team has been requested to inspect the fire site to determine the cause of the blaze. The cops are also trying to ascertain if the door of the ambulance was locked from outside. SC Rana, who owns a fleet of around 25 ambulances, said that he left for home half an hour before the fire broke out. The ambulance service provides free assistance to Delhi Police in accident cases, but charges people a fee for ferrying patients. Another of Rana’s employees disclosed that he and his friends were the first ones to detect the fire. “We woke up on hearing the sound of the glass breaking,” said Hemant, also an ambulance driver. “We saw the ambulance on fire. Realising there were men sleeping inside, collected water and tried in vain to pull out the three men”. According to the cops, Guddu and Saxena lived in Khanpur in south Delhi, while Subodh lived in Sangam Vihar. Speaking to TOI, Saxena’s mother, Sushila, recalled having a conversation an hour before police told her about the fire. “My son told me about the dust storm and said he would call me back in the morning,” said the mother, who despairs now of supporting her two others sons one a Class XII student and the other a BSc student – without the help of Saxena, who was the only earner in the fatherless family.



This safety device for cabs can work without internet



BENGALURU: A group of students and professors has come up with a tamper-proof safety device, which can be integrated with the central-locking system of cars and can work without the internet. The device was developed by Rakesh S G, associated an and head of Amrita School of Engineering, along with another professor and three engineering students. Explaining the technology, Rakesh said, “This device is a simple add-on to the inbuilt central-locking system in cars. There are just two switches on the roof of the car, which can be accessed by passengers. One is a check button that allows the passenger to ascertain whether the safety device is working and not tampered with when s/he gets into the vehicle. The other is the panic button; on pressing it, the vehicle sets off an alarm to people around so that they can reach the passenger for help”. Jaya Krishna Teja, a mechanical engineering student, said, “We don’t intend to make business out of this device. But we would like to urge the transport department to make it mandatory for car manufacturers to make it an in-built feature. The device has scope to add some more features like inserting a GPRS sim card and sending SMS to the nearest police station”.



5 fire mishaps in 24 hours keep firefighters on toes


HYDERABAD : Fire fighters were on their toes on Monday with five separate fires breaking out across the city. The fire incidents were reported at Block C in the Secretariat; at Malakpet, on the lane adjacent to RTO office; on a lane near GVK One on Road Number 1, Banjara Hills; in Musheerabad; and Chaitanyapuri. Fortunately, no casualties were reported and the flames were quickly doused by firemen. Around 8.30am, the panel board in the AC plant room located inside Secretariat caught fire. Fire department officials said the special fire protection force deployed at the Secretariat doused the flames. At the lane near GVK One, as well as in the mishap at Musheerabad, wires of a transformer got tangled, resulting in a fire. Heaps of garbage caught fire at Malakpet and Chaitanyapuri. In the lane adjacent to RTO office in Malakpet, some unidentified people threw grass used in coolers into the garbage and set it ablaze.


Within minutes the fire spread and locals alerted the fire department. Two tankers were pressed into service to douse the fire and after a four-hour battle, the flames were doused by 5.30pm. Similar incidents have been reported on the same lane before as well, said officials. “This is not the first time; a fire accident has been reported at this lane. I have seen at least 10 such incidents in the same lane,” said Naveen CH, a fireman from Malakpet fire station. The fire at Malakpet was major compared to other fire incidents. Seeing huge flames, locals gathered at the spot and were seen guiding commuters. The of smoke was so thick that it affected visibility. At Kothapet fruit market, some unknown persons threw garbage, which also caught fire.



Mylapore buildings crash into ditches for storm water drain

A TOI report published on Monday quoted residents as saying the corporation had made little progress with work after digging deep ditches to lay a storm water drain under PS Sivaswamy Salai. Little did they know that the front of two buildings on the stretch would collapse within 48 hours.



CHENNAI: If the residents of PS Sivaswamy Salai in Mylapore thought that waking up to trenches in front of their homes one fine day without prior information was bad enough, they were in for a worse shock on Monday night, when the front of two buildings caved in. Blaming the collapse on shoddy planning for an ongoing corporation project to replace an existing storm water drain on the stretch, residents said the civic body hired contractor failed to take any precautions before starting the work to ensure that properties were not damaged. They said the contractor had overrun a buffer space between the compound walls of buildings and existing drains. “On Monday night, the staircase leading to one of the houses caved in because of the work. On Tuesday morning, the front portion of the second house suffered the same fate,” said B Neelakandan, secretary, Vivekanandapuram Residents Welfare Association. “Instead of digging up the entire stretch at once, the officials should have undertaken work on smaller stretches. Residents themselves are shoveling mud and laying scaffoldings and planks to give strength to the structures of their houses,” he added.


The contractor began work on the 400m-long drain a month ago but had barely made any progress. The civic woes have left residents with a sense of déjà vu: The floods of December 2015 caused several sewerage pipes to collapse, leaving craters in the middle of the road and wrecking the stretch. Sivaswamy Salai is a major bus route linking areas around Mandaveli to other parts of the city. “Even while the work is being undertaken, buses and other heavy vehicles are still using the road. We are trying to convince motorists not to drive heavy vehicles on the road,” Neelakandan added. A senior corporation official admitted that the work carried out was not up to scratch. “There should have been a setback space between the house and the existing SWD. Instructions have been given to ensure that residents are no longer caused any inconvenience and the work will be planned better. We will take up the collapse with the contractor responsible for the drain and expedite the work,” he said. The official denied that the depth of the drain was being increased. “The existing depth of 2m will not be changed,” he said.



International News



Netanyahu says Iran deploying arms in Syria to threaten Israel



NICOSIA: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Iran on Tuesday of deploying “very dangerous weapons” in Syria as part of a campaign to threaten Israel. Iran, “openly calls, daily, for the destruction, the elimination of Israel from the face of the earth and practices unmitigated aggression against us,” Netanyahu told reporters during a visit to Cyprus. “It is now seeking to plant very dangerous weapons in Syria for the specific purpose of our destruction”.



China’s heavy military transport aircraft conducts first airborne training



BEIJING: China’s Y-20 heavy military transport aircraft has undergone its first airborne and air delivery training, the Chinese air force said on Tuesday. It marked a leap in the air force’s strategic delivery and long-distance airborne combat abilities, air force spokesperson Shen Jinke said. The air force is a strategic service, and its strategic capability should be in line with the constantly expanding national interests so it can carry out diverse military missions, he said. The strategic capability of the air force should be able to extend wherever China’s national interests reach to provide reliable air security assurance for the country’s development, he added. The Y-20, which joined the People’s Liberation Army Air Force in July 2016 and has a maximum take-off weight of around 200 tonnes, is ideal for transporting cargo and people over long distances in diverse weather conditions, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.