BMC gears up for heavy rain warning in Mumbai
MUMBAI: Following the forecast of intense rainfall activity along the state coast including Mumbai starting June 7 and extremely heavy rainfall which is likely to occur in the city from June 9 to 11, the Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has made a number of arrangements along with chalking out a list of precautionary measures. Three teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) will be pre-positioned at Parel, Mankhurd Fire Station and Andheri Sports Complex with walkie-talkies and flood rescue equipment. Besides, the Navy has also been pre-positioned at – Colaba, Worli, Ghatkopar, Trombay, Malad for flood rescue if required. The Mumbai Fire Brigade’s six flood rescue teams have also been directed to remain pre-positioned at the fire brigade’s regional command centers in Byculla, Mankhurd and Borivali. The Met department’s colour-coded weather warning has indicated Konkan and central Maharashtra in ‘red’ on June 8 and June 9, respectively. Red signifies ‘warning’ which indicates take action, while orange, yellow and green signify ‘alert’, ‘watch’ and ‘no warning’.
Officials said that warnings in red are indicative of severe weather conditions, and in this case, extremely heavy rainfall. Ajay Kumar from IMD Mumbai said that there is a low pressure developed in the Bay of Bengal which will cause further advancement of monsoon and give city significant rains. The BMC will also get the fire brigade deployed on the city’s six beaches namely Aksa beach, Girgaon beach, Dadar Chowpathy, Juhu and Versova and Aksa beach. The ward officers across the 24 wards have to make sure that their team of officials wear reflective jackets. “All leaves of BMC officials have been cancelled and also June 9-10 despite it being a holiday civic staff has been asked to report on duty,” said an official. Besides, all the 279 de-watering pumps will be closely monitored along with the spots prone to water logging.
Dust storm likely to hit Delhi on Thursday
NEW DELHI: A dust-storm is likely to hit the national capital on Thursday, an official from the MeT department said on Tuesday. It was a warm day on Tuesday with the minimum temperature settling at 31.2 degrees Celsius, three notches above the season’s average while the maximum was recorded at 41.6 degrees Celsius, a notch above normal. Humidity oscillated between 62 and 39 per cent. The minimum and maximum temperatures are likely to settle at 31 and 41 degrees Celsius on Wednesday, he added. The weatherman has predicted partly cloudy sky with possibility of dust storm and thunderstorm in the evening or night. On Monday, the maximum temperature was recorded at 41.7 degrees Celsius while the minimum settled at 30.4 degrees Celsius.
Car thieves had ‘orders’ from dealers
NEW DELHI: A day after a car thief was shot dead and his associate caught near Vivek Vihar in east Delhi, a probe revealed that the men came to Delhi on June 1 and were camping near Sarai Kale Khan. The accused had orders for three Fortuner cars, which they stole from different areas in the city. They had parked the cars on empty stretches and planned to drive them out on Monday for delivery. Police are now looking for the rest of the gang members, who they suspect may have fled to UP or Haryana. The deceased, Noor Mohammad, was found to be part of an auto lifting syndicate running from north India. The gang took orders from used-car dealers in north-east. The dealers used to tell them about the customer demands, which were mostly specific – mentioning the colour of the car and its interiors. The gang would then look for such vehicles. Noor’s associate Ravi could slip into any vehicle by breaking the glass pane and connecting a laptop to the ECM unit. During interrogation, Ravi told police that three such vehicles were stolen from west and south Delhi and parked at different places — mostly at parking lots or near metro stations. After parking the cars, the men would change the number plates so that the local cops could not identify the stolen vehicle. A plastic cover was usually placed on the vehicle to avoid detection. The vehicles too would be parked at parking lots or near metro stations. Ravi told cops that he used to work as a mechanic with a vehicle repair shop and was roped-in by Noor, who offered him money from the sale proceeds.
Gold worth Rs 55 lakhs seized at Bengaluru airport in one month
Customs officials have registered five different cases against smugglers who used unique ways to smuggle the yellow metal.
BENGALURU: Customs officials at Kempegowda International Airport have seized 1.72kg gold worth Rs 55 lakh in the past one month. Customs officials have registered five different cases against smugglers who used unique ways to smuggle the yellow metal. In the first case that took place on 19 May, 2 gold pieces weighing 233.28gm were found concealed inside a Bluetooth speaker of a check- in luggage of a passenger namely Ibrahim Moozhikkal, who arrived from Bahrain. A gold biscuit was being smuggled by concealing it in a Bluetooth speaker. On examination of the bags of the passenger, suspected images were seen. On being asked by the customs officers, the passenger insisted that the speaker was genuine and was his personal baggage. However, based on strong suspicion, officers broke open the speaker and found 2 gold pieces worth Rs 7,47,895. Just a day before, a woman was arrested by Air Intelligence Unit for carrying 583.2gm gold worth Rs 18.69 lakh by concealing it in her rectum.
Syeda Nuzhat Rana, the accused, had arrived from Dubai. She was caught during the profiling. On May 14, two passengers were caught for trying to smuggle gold. Jaleer Mohammed Poochakad, who arrived from Dubai, was carrying 268.5gm gold worth Rs 8.75 lakh. On the same day, another passenger, Harish Mohammed Kunhi, was also caught while smuggling 455.16gm gold worth Rs 14.78 lakh. On 5 May, Thoufeeq Maiden Batcha, a native of Tamil Nadu, was caught by customs officials when he tried to smuggle 187.48gm gold worth Rs 6 lakh. He concealed the cylindrical pieces of gold in his rectum. He was heading to Bengaluru from Kuala Lampur. The same passenger had travelled with one Adil Hasim Abdul Azir, who was caught smuggling of 200gm gold on 18 April. The passenger who was caught by the Air Intelligence Unit officers was found to have concealed the gold pieces in his rectum.
Two arrested for robbing Security Guard
HYDERABAD: Two persons who had robbed a TrueJet company Security Guard were arrested by RGI airport police on Monday. The accused, M Shravan Kuma and M Sudhakar, are residents of Amdapur village of Moinabad mandal. The incident occurred on April 22 at 9.10pm at Rallaguda road, when the victim, Hare Ram Sah, was on his way home. Ram was walking on a service road on ORR when the accused came on bike and snatched a mobile phone and 3,000 from him. After a complaint was lodged, a special team arrested the accused at Rallaguda bridge. Property worth 10,000 was seized.
Cops set up kiosk for better airport policing
The police kiosk coming up in the airport area.
KOLKATA: The cops, with help from with the airport authorities, are setting up an assistance booth to control the touts and reach out to the flyers. The booth will help passengers approach policemen and report everything – from being harassed by touts to the loss of mobile phones. The kiosk, set up opposite gate 3B of the arrival area, will accommodate four to five policemen, including officers of sub-inspector and assistant sub-inspector ranks, and will be operational round the clock from the end of this month. “Time and again, we come across complaints about touts and how they harass passengers. Also, we have received feedbacks that people have trouble locating cops in case they lose something or have to report about any other issue. This kiosk will increase visibility of policemen as soon as they come out of the airport and the presence of cops in uniform is sure to deter criminals and touts,” said Amit Javalgi, the deputy commissioner (headquarter) of Bidhannagar City Police. TOI reporting on the tout torment over the past two months had triggered a drive against them. As many as 20 of them were arrested in April. However, the touts have changed their way of operation — TOI had also reported on that — and were posing as trolley handlers, coolies, taxi helpers and even private drivers holding fake passenger name placards. “The touts keep coming back. To prevent them from gaining entry into the airport area on a permanent basis, we have decided to increase the presence of our men in uniform and thus we are coming up with the assistance booth,” said an officer of the airport police station.
At the airport, the CISF is in charge of terminal security. But the area outside the terminal falls under the jurisdiction of the Bidhannagar Commissionerate. Till now, the Commissionerate had a single counter at a corner inside the terminal. It is often overlooked by passengers and the flyers often complain they can’t find the cops when they need them the most – that is after coming out of the airport terminal. Currently, if someone has to lodge a complaint, the nearest police station would be the NSCBI police station, which is a 15-minute walk from the terminal. The cop presence is limited to a handful of policemen at the pre-paid taxi kiosk and a few civic police volunteers who manage taxi and app cab queues. “Just last month as I was leaving the airport, there was a man who brushed past me and as I stopped him, he started arguing and then fled the spot. I wanted to lodge a complaint and walked to the nearest man in uniform, who turned out to be a CISF personnel and he asked me to go to the policemen. I looked around and approached a lady civic volunteer who said she can’t take down any complaint and asked me to go to the police station. I had two large trolley bags and was frustrated being sent from one place to another. I left the airport in disgust in an app cab,” said Susmita Dutta, a resident of Lake Gardens. Airport authorities, too, feel the kiosk was much in need. “We are hopeful that permanent police presence will deter the touts from troubling the passengers. We have allowed them permission to build a kiosk,” said Atul Dikshit, the airport director.
Come monsoon, Chennai may sink again
Greater Chennai Corporation’s flood management plan for the northeast monsoon.
CHENNAI: If water stagnation on the city roads after Wednesday’s spell of rain had left you flustered, you would fume at Greater Chennai Corporation’s flood management plan for the northeast monsoon. Unable to obtain funds to build flood drains under the Integrated Storm Water Drain (ISWD) project, the corporation has put off the plan for 12 months. This means the city will have to make do with its failing infrastructure if a flood hits during the monsoon. “There is no money. No agency has shown willingness to fund. Of the funding options on the table, there are complications. Except for what is already in progress, ISWD work will not happen before June 2019,” said a senior corporation official. ISWD, mooted by former chief minister J Jayalalithaa in 2014 in a bid to reduce the impact of floods, involves laying a complex network of micro and macro drains to allow rainwater to flow unimpeded into canals and rivers. Estimated to cost `4,034 crore, the project was to cover Kosasthalaiyar, Adyar, Cooum and Kovalam basins. But the civic body does not have enough funds to take up work in the Kosasthalaiyar and Kovalam basins. It even knocked at the Union government’s doors but to no avail. “We had written to NITI Aayog but it declined our request,” a corporation official said.
Corporation sources blamed the slow pace of functioning of German development bank KfW for its inability to construct drains in the Kovalam basin. “KfW reviews Chennai’s projects in a three-month period during the year. If we miss getting the approval within this window, we need to wait until next year,” the source said. But the work on Kovalam remains a nonstarter partially because the corporation submitted an outdated detailed project report to KfW. The funding agency found the project risk assessments inadequate and asked the corporation to redo it causing the delay. The revised reports are not expected to be ready before June 2019. Work on building drains in the Adyar and Cooum basins at an estimated `1,261.50 crore began more than three years ago. The project, which has already missed several deadlines, would be completed by September-end, municipal administration minister S P Velumani told the assembly on Monday. But the red tape means more trouble for residents. B V Ramanan of Kaliamman Koil Street in Virugambakkam said the prospect of another flood was terrifying. “There was three feet of flood water inside our house in 2015,” he said. C Karthik, a resident of Cross Road in New Washermenpet, said the state government’s “misplaced priorities” were to blame. “They have money to spend on memorials and celebrating MGR’s anniversary. The people should be their priority,” he said.
At least 99 dead as Guatemala volcano threatens new eruptions
Workers remove ash from a road at an area affected by the eruption of the Fuego volcano at El Rodeo in Escuintla.
ESCUINTLA: Explosions boomed from Guatemala‘s fearsome Fuego volcano Wednesday, unleashing fresh torrents of molten mud and ash down slopes, as the death toll from a previous eruption rose to at least 99. Fears of a new blowup of the 3,763-metre (12,346-foot) volcano have stalked rescue workers since Sunday’s eruption buried entire villages on its southern flank. The National Forensic Sciences Agency said in a report Wednesday that morgues had received the remains of 99 people killed as a result of the eruption. Only 28 have been identified so far, it said. “We already have data with names and locations where there are missing persons and that number is 192,” Sergio Cabanas, head of Guatemala’s disaster management agency, told reporters earlier in the day. Experts warned Wednesday that heavy rains in the area could provoke avalanches due to the large flows of volcanic mud, known as lahars, since the eruption on Sunday. Volcanologists recorded the volcano exploding several times an hour Wednesday, which generated a fresh 4,700 meter (15,500 feet) high column of gray ash. “The explosions are generating moderate avalanches that have an approximate distance of 800 to 1,000 meters,” the Vulcanology Institute said. It said the lahars could sweep down the mountain laden with concrete, rocks up to a meter (yard) in diameter and tree trunks. “The activity continues and the possibility of new pyroclastic flows in the next hours or days cannot be ruled out, so it is recommended not to remain near the affected area,” it said.
Emergency workers had to temporarily suspend their search late Tuesday after a new eruption triggered a landslide. Hundreds of people were evacuated from seven communities in the Escuintla area near the summit, as panicked locals rushed to their cars to escape, causing chaotic traffic. An AFP photographer saw a large plume of ash rise into the sky, prompting an evacuation of everyone authorities could find before the police, the military and rescuers were ordered to stand down. Hundreds of rescue workers, including firefighters, police and the military, were battling adverse conditions to search for remains in the tangled morass of rubble, dust and earth left behind by the landslides. General Walter Sanchez, in charge of operations around the epicenter of the destruction near the village of El Rodeo, said the heat from the ash and hot sediment made rescue work difficult. Firefighters hosed down their smoking boots, which had sunk into molten volcanic material just below the ash surface. Everything in the search area was covered in a thick blanket of dust. In the murk created by the dust, police were using red ink to mark homes that had already been searched for bodies. More than 12,000 people have been evacuated from their homes, the disaster management agency said, more than 3,000 of them housed in temporary shelters. On the slopes Wednesday, local volunteers distributed food to rescue workers, and columns of cars handed out food, water, toilet paper, diapers and other necessities to residents.
Some residents said they had organized themselves to prevent looting that they claimed occurred on the first night of the disaster. The killer eruption was the Central American country’s strongest in four decades. It sent huge clouds of ash barreling over the surrounding area, blanketing roads, cars and people in thick gray dust as a river of molten mud carved a path down the mountain, sweeping away entire villages. Officials said the speed and ferocity of the eruption took mountain communities by surprise, with many of the dead found in or around their homes. Despite offers of international help from the United States, Mexico and several Latin American neighbors, Guatemalan authorities have not made a request for foreign aid. The foreign ministry said disaster management agency CONRED would help determine any such request. “We are ready when CONRED as the governing body of emergency management authorize us to make an appeal,” the ministry said in a statement. President Jimmy Morales has been criticized on social media for passively waiting to react to offers of international aid. The head of the International Red Cross Francesco Rocca is due to visit the country on Thursday, the Geneva-based agency said.
Attack on army post in Afghanistan kills 6 soldiers
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN: An Afghan official says the Taliban have attacked an army post in the western Badghis province, killing six soldiers and wounding seven. Abdul Aziz Beg, head of the provincial council, said the attack late Tuesday set off a two-hour gun battle, with the insurgents stealing ammunition and two army vehicles. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. In the northern Baghlan province, police say a roadside bomb killed a civilian and wounded three others. Afghan security forces have struggled in recent years to combat the Taliban and a local Islamic State affiliate, both of which carry out near-daily attacks across the country.
Fire at London’s Knightsbridge; around 120 firefighters pressed into service
LONDON: Around 120 firefighters have been pressed into service to control a fire at the roof of a luxury hotel in London’s Knightsbridge, reported local media. Fire crew from Chelsea, Kensington, Hammersmith, Battersea and other surrounding fire stations are at the scene. As per the news reports, around 20 fire tenders have been dispatched to the scene of the fire. A Reuters reporter said smoke was visible coming from the five-star Mandarin Oriental hotel, a luxury area of central London where Harrods department store is located. The fire service said the blaze was “producing a lot of smoke” and was “very visible” and its cause “is not known at this stage”. Police said the hotel was being evacuated and it was not yet known whether there had been any injuries. Firefighters were called to the fire at 1455 GMT. “We are aware that there is a fire at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London, and that the fire brigade is at the hotel,” a hotel spokesman said. “As the situation is still unfolding, we have no further details to share at this time, but will provide an update soon”. Roads were closed off at Scotch Corner and Hyde Park Corner, busy junctions near the hotel an Edwardian-style building that opened its doors in 1902 and was bought by Mandarin Oriental in 1996. Transport for London, which manages the city’s public transport system, said an entrance to Knightsbridge Underground station had been closed “at the request of the emergency services”. Anna Whiteley, a TV presenter, tweeted that she was evacuated from the hotel. “Just evacuated Mandarin Oriental hotel to see this… absolutely crazy! So impressed by the organisation in bringing everyone to safety,” she wrote on Twitter. The London Ambulance Service said had sent “a number of resources” to the scene of the incident. The hotel has 198 rooms and suites.
At least 16 killed as arms depot blows up in Baghdad
People at the site of explosion in Baghdad’s Sadr City district.
BAGHDAD: At least 16 people were killed and dozens injured after an arms depot exploded in the Sadr City district of the Iraqi capital on Thursday, security and medical sources said. “An arms depot exploded… The security forces have opened an inquiry to determine the cause,” Baghdad‘s security operations command said in a statement. A senior police source told AFP on condition of anonymity that the blast was caused by heavy weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades and shells, belonging to an armed group and stored in a house. He said at least 16 people were killed and some 32 injured in the explosion. Medical sources confirmed the toll and said that women and children were found among the victims. Sources said the blast struck near a Shia mosque in the district of northeast Baghdad. Witnesses reported heavy material damage to homes and other buildings in the Sadr City district, which is a stronghold of populist Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr.