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.
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.