8 dead as rain pounds Kerala, south Tamil Nadu; cyclone ‘Ochki’ heads to Lakshadweep
Torrential rains pounded southern districts of Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Kerala crippling life and claiming eight lives – four each in the two states – as a deep depression in the Bay of Bengal intensified into cyclonic storm ‘Ockhi’ on Thursday.
KANYAKUMARI/THIRUVANATHAPURAM: Torrential rains pounded southern districts of Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Kerala crippling life and claiming eight lives – four each in the two states – as a deep depression in the Bay of Bengal intensified into cyclonic storm ‘Ochki’ on Thursday. Both the state governments put the official machinery on high alert as the cyclone, lying 60 kms south of Kanyakumari, was forecast to dump more rains in south Tamil Nadu and Kerala in the next 24 hours. The storm was expected to move toward the Lakshadweep archipelago and hit the islands on December 2. A bulletin issued by the India Meteorological Department said wind speed reaching 65-75 kmph gusting to 85 kmph was very likely along and off South Kerala during next 48 hours and along and off south Tamil Nadu during next 24 hours. Fishermen in coastal regions in southern parts of the two states were advised not to venture into sea for the next 24 hours, it said. Madhavan Rajeevan, Secretary in the Earth Sciences ministry, said in New Delhi that Lakshadweep in the southern part of the Arabian Sea will start experiencing heavy rainfall and strong winds from tomorrow. “It will hit the islands on December 2,” Rajeevan said. Tamil Nadu government deployed state and national disaster response force teams in Kanyakumari district, which bore the brunt of the rain fury. It asked officials to shelter people living in low lying areas in multi-purpose evacuation centres. Chief Minister K Palaniswami, who reviewed the situation, said in Chennai that state Ministers and senior IAS officials have been assigned to affected districts to monitor relief work. Also, electricity personnel with necessary equipment have been rushed to restore power distribution that was affected due to trees falling over electric poles, Palaniswami said.
Minister for Revenue and Disaster Management R B Udhaya Kumar, deputed to Kanyakumari to take up relief work on a war footing, said people in the affected areas have been shifted to safer places. He said nearly 3,000 electric poles have been uprooted in the district, affecting power supply. Besides Kanyakumari, Tuticorin and Tirunelveli districts were among those battered by the rains. Educational institutions remained closed in southern districts such as Tirunelveli, Tuticorin, Viruthunagar and Thanjavur. Three men and a woman were killed when trees fell on them in different areas in Kanyakumari district, officials said. In Kerala, the state government put the official machinery on a high alert and ordered evacuation of people living within 100 metres from the coast and also sought help from the Navy, Coast Guard and the Air Force to assist people in distress. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan held discussions through video conferencing with the Collectors of Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Alapuzha, Pathnamthitta, Idukki and Ernakulam districts and gave them necessary directions to take steps by coordinating various government agencies. The state reported four rain related deaths, including an elderly couple who were electrocuted when they came into contact with a snapped live wire in front of their house at Kattakada near Thiruvananthapuram.
The rains accompanied by gusty winds left a trail of destruction in Kanyakumari district, in the southernmost tip of the country, uprooting more than 500 trees, State Disaster Management Agency said. Southern Railway said it has partially cancelled some trains in Tirunelveli-Kanyakumari-Thiruvananthapuram sector. Due to bad weather, a scheduled two-day programme of Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, which was to begin on Friday in Kerala, has been cancelled, party sources said. Thiruvananthapuram and its coastal stretch were witnessing heavy rains accompanied by strong winds since Thursday morning. In several places, electric posts got uprooted. Vizhinjam coastal police said they received information that at least 57 fishermen, who had put out to sea from Thumba to Pozhiyur since Wednesday, were yet to return. Twenty-nine traditional boats which had set out from Poonthura were also out in the sea, police said. A Kochi report said Navy deployed four ships and two aircraft to assist in the search and rescue of fishermen onboard six boats and a marine Engineering vessel reported to be missing in the sea near Vizhinjam. The Southern Naval Command was also gearing up for any humanitarian assistance and disaster relief that may be required in view of the cyclone in the southern parts of Kerala, a defence release said.
Crime in Mumbai dips, Bengaluru 2nd most unsafe after Delhi
MUMBAI: There’s good news and there’s bad news. Incidence of crime in Mumbai has fallen, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report 2016, while Bengaluru has overtaken it to become the second most crime-ridden city in the country. Mumbai is down to third position among 19 cities for offences registered under Indian Penal Code (IPC), losing the number two slot it held for two years in succession. Delhi continues to be the country’s crime capital with almost five times as many cases as Mumbai and nearly four times as many as Bengaluru. Data shows Mumbai also has a lower crime rate— IPC cases per one lakh population— than Delhi and Bengaluru, and is at 15th position behind Kochi (2nd), Nagpur (8th) and Pune (12th). DGP Satish Mathur said a check on street crime in the metropolis with increased patrolling and use of stringent IPC sections had paid off. Among states, Maharashtra ranks third behind Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
Metro in Security Muddle Amid Mad Surge
Hyderabad Metro Rail broke all records of Metros commencing commercial operations with 2 lakh commuters on Day 1.
HYDERABAD: As tens of thousands of commuters thronged the Metro stations to take a ride on Thursday, the Hyderabad Metro Rail Limited (HMRL) and the police officials said they are putting in place elaborate security arrangements to tackle any untoward incidents. After Hyderabad Metro Rail broke all records of Metros commencing commercial operations with 2 lakh commuters on Day 1, the number of travellers fell to nearly 1 lakh on the second day on Thursday. Hyderabadis took 40,000 selfies at Metro rail premises on Wednesday, of which 25,000 selfies were taken at Miyapur station alone. This was revealed by data analytics captured by 1,536 cameras on the Nagole-Ameerpet-Miyapur route. The cameras also picked up many people indulging in drunken behaviour after 6pm. While the cameras are already in place for ‘invisible policing’, senior police officials took stock of the security arrangement and crowd management on Thursday. Director General of Police M Mahendar Reddy, managing director of HMRL NVS Reddy, additional DG (law and order) Anjani Kumar, Hyderabad police commissioner VV Srinivasa Rao and managing director of L&TMRHL Shivanad Nimbargi inspected the safety and security aspects at Ameerpet Metro station. After the inspection, Mahendar Reddy said that around 600 police personnel deployed at the Metro stations have been given extensive training. “In police terminology, we say that one camera is equal to 100 constables.
There are 64 cameras at each Metro station and trains covering every inch of the space and recording every activity. We are already using data analytics. More of big data analytics will be put to use for invisible policing,” he said. The top cop said that plans are afloat to set up two Metro police stations at Parade Grounds and Ameerpet. They will come up after getting necessary clearances and sanctions and hence no clear deadlines have been set. Explaining how the advanced cameras can capture anything in 360 degrees, HMRL managing director NVS Reddy said, “We have taken note of every small activity, including abnormal/drunken behaviour, recorded by the cameras. Everything recorded will be stored for 15 days. It can be increased to more number of days if required”. The Metro rail chief also said solving parking woes at the stations, parking fees and dedicated parking areas will soon be announced. On Thursday, the drop in number of commuters was largely due to lesser joyrides than Wednesday, said officials. Nevertheless, there were still many who enjoyed their first ride. “Although I planned the ride yesterday, I could take it only today. It is a great feeling to zoom past the city on the Metro train,” said Lakshman Mungi, a scriptwriter travelling from SR Nagar to ESI Metro station.
Cybercrime awareness lacking in India: Experts
CHENNAI: The Supreme Court might have upheld privacy as a fundamental right, but Indians are not yet very particular about their digital privacy, said cybercrime experts who see red in apps seeking permission to access bulk of a user’s personal data. “Apps are like parcels sent by unknown people. An unsuspecting person may be eager to open the parcel, but that can be dangerous. Similarly, apps may contain malware, spyware and ransomware,” said K Srinivasan, co-founder of Digital Security Association of India. “Many people using these apps are least bothered and they are feeding all their personal photos and videos into these apps without thinking of the consequences,” he said. Cybercrime experts recommend updating of applications and software whenever available to prevent hacking. “Hackers work day and night to crack a legit software. That is the reason why the developer also updates and releases newer versions to counter the hackers,” a cybercrime expert said. Rajendran said while user privacy was a priority, it had a flip side. “Photos, videos and documents shared over WhatsApp are protected against unauthorised access. WhatsApp does not store the messages on its servers. But the flip side is that this very assurance raises the concern of government investigators engaged in solving cybercrime cases and combating cyberterrorism,” he said. And while new features in apps are welcomed by users for their convenience, the same are put to ill use by criminals. “WhatsApp’s update to delete a sent message is indeed a useful tool, but it is an added nightmare for cybercrime investigators because the evidence of messages exchanged between criminals and terrorists could be destroyed easily,” he said.
4 killed in Pak in suspected US drone strike targeting Haqqani network
DERA ISMAIL KHAN (PAKISTAN): A suspected US drone strike on Thursday targeted a hideout of the Haqqani militant network along Pakistan’s mountainous border with Afghanistan, killing four people, officials said. If confirmed, it would be the fourth such US strike inside Pakistan since President Donald Trump took office in January. Two Pakistani intelligence officials and a local government officer said an unmanned aerial vehicle dropped two missiles on a compound housing militants under the command of a senior network commander, Abdur Rasheed Haqqani. Villagers initially reported a blast in the Upper Kurram area to authorities, said one of the officials, adding, “We got it from our informant later that it was a US drone strike that targeted Haqqanis”. It was not clear if the commander was among those killed, added the officials, who sought anonymity as the issue is a sensitive one. Trump’s new strategy for the Afghanistan war calls for a tougher stance with Pakistan against militants such as the Haqqani network who have bases inside Pakistan. Since the Afghan policy review, the US has been pushing Islamabad for decisive action against the Haqqani network militants, who are notorious for using Pakistani soil to launch attacks against American-led NATO troops in Afghanistan. Islamabad denies the allegations, and, instead, blames Kabul for not taking out militants who use Afghan territory as a base for attacks on targets in Pakistan. Pakistan has been facing a deadly Islamist militancy for more than a decade. Gunmen attacked a minority Shi’ite Muslim mosque in Islamabad, the capital, on Wednesday, killing two people. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami, a Sunni sectarian group linked with militant group Islamic State, claimed responsibility for the mosque attack.