News Flash – 17 October 2017

National News

 

 

Youth gropes woman as she steps into ATM, held

 

 

MUMBAI: A 22-year-old man was arrested recently for allegedly groping a woman inside a bank’s ATM booth in Andheri (east) on Saturday . The 27-yearold woman grabbed the man, Jitendra Ede, who lives in Andheri, and took him to the Andheri police station and got him arrested. Deputy commissioner of police Navinchandra Reddy confirmed Ede‘s arrest. The incident took place late in the evening when the woman had gone to withdraw cash. “He entered the ATM kiosk located at Mograpada on seeing the woman alone inside and groped her,” said Reddy. The man was the last person in a queue of people waiting to withdraw money. In her complaint, the woman said that the accused was standing right behind her. “He touched me inappropriately while in queue, but I thought it happened by mistake. Just as I was to enter the kiosk, he touched me again and that’s when I gave him a hard stare,” she said. Moments after she had stepped into the kiosk to withdraw cash, Ede barged in as there was no one else behind him, said an officer from the Andheri police station. “The woman was still in the process of withdrawing money when he groped her. As she started screaming, a few locals gathered outside the kiosk,” said the officer. Ede tried to escape but the woman caught him and, with help from those who had gathered, handed him over to the police. The police have sought footage from cameras around the crime spot. Ede was booked for outraging the modesty of a woman under the Indian Penal Code.

 

 

More companies use Aadhaar to verify new hires

 

BENGALURU: Employers are beginning to use Aadhaar to verify their potential employees, a move that could see the weeklong verification process reducing to less than 15 minutes, and hiring costs falling dramatically. It is also helping make the process paperless — no need to provide documents that show, say, the proof of residence. One of the country’s largest private sector employers, contract staffing firm Quess, has on boarded more than 30,000 employees — blue collar and white collar — using Aadhaar verification over the past four months. Quess employs 2.1 lakh people, and supplies them to companies that need them. Attrition rates are very high in certain categories of its employees, so its hiring numbers are always big. Ajit Isaac, founder and CEO of Quess, said the verification process now needs just six people, and takes just a few minutes, whereas it required 35-40 people earlier working for weeks. Quess has its own verification division. But employee verification is usually outsourced to an agency that goes and checks whether the employee resides in the address provided to the employer. The agency even makes calls to the references provided by the employee to check the antecedents. This process usually takes five-seven days. Gurgaon-based employee verification company Authbridge has been helping its clients onboard employees using Aadhaar. Bengaluru-based verification company Better Place has also deployed an Aadhaar based verification solution for its clients that include Swiggy, Runnr, Dusters, Guardwell and Housejoy. “Aadhaar verification is simple enough to be done at scale,” says Saurabh Tandon, COO of BetterPlace. He says people often use false identities, or use a driving licence at one place and an election ID at another place. “People even use different ID cards to rejoin the same company,” he said.

 

 

Aadhaar verification will make such frauds difficult. The cost of verification using Aadhaar can be as low as Rs 15 per person. It’ll be particularly useful in manpower intensive sectors like retail and logistics. Aadhaar verification will not suffice in jobs where police verification is obligatory — for instance security guard jobs, where police verification is mandatory in most states. The employee verification is similar to what Reliance Jio did to enroll customers. It’s now acknowledged that this was what enabled Jio to enroll 10 crore customers in less than six months. And where other telecom companies spent Rs 50 to verify every customer, Jio did for less than a rupee. Quess’ Isaac says hiring costs can come down by 60% using its Aadhaar platform. BetterPlace’s Tandon expects many companies will use Aadhaar for employee verification once they are ready with the technology. “When they start using it, they see a lot of value in it,” he said. According to Isaac, Quess’ verification tool was developed by Heptagon Technologies, a company it acquired recently. It is now opening the platform for third-party users. “Since we started implementing it, we’ve got requests from companies to use our software. Surprisingly, even wealth management companies want to use it as a tool to onboard customers, because Aadhaar now has bank accounts and PAN card linked to it,” he said.

 

 

Major fire leads to collapse of 4-storey building in West Delhi

 

 

NEW DELHI: A major fire broke out at a four-storeyed building in West Delhi‘s Mansarovar Garden, leading to the collapse of the whole complex today. The Delhi Fire Service received a call about a fire at the building that housed a semi-mall at around 3.45 PM today. Thirty fire tenders were rushed to control the blaze, a fire service official said. Goods in the shops of the building were gutted but no one was reported injured in the fire, he said. During the dousing of the fire, the whole building, weakened by the heat, collapsed, the official said. It took the firefighters over two hours to bring the fire under control. Police said that the cause of fire was under investigation but the possibility of a short circuit could not be ruled out.

 

 

Cash box with Rs 32 lakh stolen from southwest Delhi ATM

 

 

NEW DELHI: Robbers broke an unguarded ATM of Corporation Bank and fled with the cash box containing Rs 31.77 lakh at a village near Chhawla on Friday. The men had sprayed motor oil on the CCTV camera installed inside the ATM while removing the cash box. Police said they put the box in a tempo and fled towards Haryana. The role of a professional gang is suspected to be involved in the theft. The incident was reported by the security agency that had gone to the ATM at the Khaira village near Najafgarh to refill cash on Friday morning. It was found the thieves had cut open the ATM machine using a gas cutter to remove the cash box. Police suspect at least three to four men had entered the kiosk that remains unguarded through the day. Police said the men had removed the glass panes of the kiosk by cutting open the rubber frame, and then crawled into the room with their equipment. The ATM is located opposite a temple and the area usually remains empty at night. Investigations revealed the crime was well-planned. The thieves had even disconnected the streetlights. Cops are in a fix now as none of the nearby shops have CCTVs. However, they have asked the security agency that monitors the CCTV cameras to provide them with footage before the incident to identify the men. Villagers have told police there is a night watchman in the area, but he too must have gone to sleep in the early hours when the incident occurred. Experts say all ATM machines have a self-locking mechanism when an attempt is made to break into the system and can only be opened by a trained professional. Police said the CCTV camera in the ATM was an older version with an integrated memory chip, so no footage was available for them to scan.

 

 

Security Guard killed in hostel

 

 

Bengaluru: A 32-year-old security guard was allegedly killed by his colleague for not sharing alcohol with him at the boys’ hostel of MS Ramaiah Medical College in Mattikere, north Bengaluru, on Sunday night. Binod Basu was a native of Assam and guard with Sun Tower Detective and Security Agency. Tushar Singh from Delhi has been booked for murder. Binod and Tushar, who were employed six months ago, used to stay in the room provided by the college management in the third floor of the hostel building. Around 11.30pm, when Binod who stocked liquor in the room started drinking, Tushar asked him to share it with him. When Binod refused, an altercation ensued between them. Furious, Tushar punched and kicked Binod, killing him instantly.

 

 

Record rain floods Bengaluru, toll hits 16

Water flooded roads at Hongasandra near Bommanahalli due to last night heavy rain in Bangalore.

 

 

BENGALURU: The toll in rain related incidents mounted to 16 this season, after a teenage girl was washed away in a storm water drain in east Bengaluru on Sunday morning. The incessant rain over the past two months has made 2017 the wettest year for Bengaluru city. Till Sunday, Bengaluru had received 1666mm of rain, breaking the earlier record of 1606mm in 2005. The quantum of rainfall in October touched 386mm. Narasamma, a construction labourer and resident of Krishnappa Garden, CV Raman Nagar, fell into the overflowing drain when she had gone to relieve herself along with a group of women. Her body was found 500 metres downstream, 20 minutes later. Three men drowned in two separate instances in neighbouring Ramanagara district since Saturday evening. At least 100 BBMP officials, 40 personnel from the Fire and Emergency Services, 20 from the State Disaster Response Force and 26 from the National Disaster Response Force took part in Sunday’s search. Facing flak over the rain-related deaths, the Karnataka government proposes to develop Bengaluru’s 850km network of storm water drains. Chief minister Siddaramaiah told reporters in Mysuru on Sunday that storm water drains in Bengaluru were unable to bear the load of heavy rain lashing the city since the past two months, and blamed the previous governments for its failure to set right the storm water drain network. He said he had already sanctioned Rs 800 crore for the development of 350km of drains where the problem is acute. All encroachments, illegal buildings and silt will be removed, he added. Bengaluru city is facing a unique weather system where the southwest monsoon has extended its stint and soon, the northeast monsoon will arrive.

 

 

Two killed in Warangal hospital fire

 

 

HYDERABAD: Two patients died of asphyxiation in a fire caused by the explosion of a nitrogen cylinder at Rohini Super Speciality Hospital in Warangal on Monday evening. The deceased were identified as Chetti Kumaraswamy (45) and Mallamma (67). “The nitrogen cylinder burst in the second floor, making several oxygen cylinders explode. This caused the fire to spread to the other floors,” said district fire officer A Keshavulu.

 

 

Central team tells TN to test all fever cases for dengue within three days

 

 

CHENNAI: A five-member central team that visited Tamil Nadu to investigate the dengue outbreak has asked the state government to ensure that all fever cases are tested for dengue within the first three days as per WHO protocol. The state should ensure early diagnosis and create awareness that will bring behavioural changes among people, said National Vector Borne Diseases Control Programme joint director Dr Kalpana Baruah, who was a members the central team, on Monday. After more than 12,000 dengue cases were reported in the state, Prime Minister Narendra Modi deputed a five member team to assess the situation based on request from deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam. The team, which arrived in Chennai on Friday, visited two hospitals in the city and affected areas like Salem and Chengalpet on Saturday. It visited the Union territory of Puducherry on Sunday.

 

“We saw that most people were aware of the disease. They knew it is caused by a daytime-biting mosquito that breeds in fresh water. But they have not done anything about it. The awareness, henceforth, should focus on bringing out behavioural change,” said Dr Kalpana. “Discarded cups and coconut shells should not be allowed to collect water. Chennai and other areas will have rain for next three months. If vector control measures are not undertaken, transmission cannot be stopped,” she said. The state has also decided to implement the team’s recommendations immediately without waiting for a report from the Centre. “As of now while most people coming to government hospitals undergo a rapid NS1 antigen test, those visiting private hospitals get different tests done on day five or after. The central team felt that with an early diagnosis, we may be able to bring down deaths,” said state health secretary J Radhakrishnan. On Sunday, Union minister of state for health Ashwini Kumar Choubey visited the state.

 

 

International News

 

 

California wildfire death toll rises to 41, firefighters gain ground

Charred property is seen before a home that was untouched by the fire in Santa Rosa, California.

 

 

SANTA ROSA, California: Firefighters began gaining ground on wildfires that killed at least 41 people in the past week, the deadliest blazes in California’s history, as winds eased and searchers combed charred ruins for more victims with hundreds still missing. The most destructive Northern California fires were more than half contained by Monday, and tens of thousands of residents who had fled the flames in hard-hit Sonoma County were allowed to return to their homes north of San Francisco. More than 5,700 structures were destroyed by more than a dozen wildfires that ignited a week ago and consumed an area larger than New York City. Entire neighborhoods in the city of Santa Rosa were reduced to ashes. “The weather has improved from the high, dry winds we experienced last week, but there’s still winds and high temperatures at high elevations,” said Amy Head, a Cal Fire spokeswoman. “Even if the winds don’t pick up, it’s really steep country and we could have some issues with embers flying across lines. We’re not out of the woods yet”. Mendocino County authorities said power company PG&E would begin flying low in the county to check lines and re-establish power. About 11,000 firefighters supported by air tankers and helicopters were battling blazes that have consumed more than 213,000 acres (86,200 hectares). About 50 search-and-rescue personnel backed by National Guard troops were combing tens of thousands of charred acres in Sonoma County for bodies, sheriff’s spokeswoman Misti Harris said. “Once it’s safe to go through, we’ll search every structure,” she said. Twenty-two people were killed in Sonoma County and 174 were still listed as missing, though the number was dropping as more people checked in with authorities. The driver of a private water tender died in Napa County in a vehicle rollover on Monday, officials said. Evacuation orders were lifted for the picturesque Napa Valley resort town of Calistoga, whose 5,000 residents were ordered out by authorities four days ago.

 

In Redwood Valley, a scorched Mendocino County town of about 1,700 people, Jami Flores and her family sifted through the ruins of their two-story rental home, which was reduced to rubble. “There’s been a lot of crying and a lot of emotions,” Flores, 42, said. Flores, her husband and daughter fled last week after being awoken by the smell of smoke, not uncommon in the area. Seeing a red haze, they rushed to leave amid falling ash and arriving firefighters. “The mountain was on fire,” Flores said. Now she wonders, “Where do we all go next?”. Firefighters gained control of two of the deadliest fires in wine country’s Napa and Sonoma counties: The Tubbs fire was 70 percent contained and the Atlas fire 68 percent contained, Cal Fire said. Half of the Redwood Valley fire, which alone was responsible for eight deaths in Mendocino County, was extinguished by Monday. The 41 confirmed fatalities make the fires California’s deadliest since record-keeping began, surpassing the 29 deaths from the Griffith Park fire of 1933 in Los Angeles. About 40,000 people remained displaced. At least a dozen Napa Valley and Sonoma County wineries were damaged or destroyed, throwing the state’s wine industry and related tourism into disarray. Cal Fire estimated the fires would be contained by Friday. The year’s wildfire season is one of the worst in US history, with nearly 8.6 million acres (3.4 million hectares) burned by Oct. 13, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. The worst on record for the same period in a year was 9.3 million acres in 2015.

 

 

Ireland and UK brace for impact of Hurricane Ophelia

 

 

LONDON: The remnants of Hurricane Ophelia could bring 80 mile an hour (130 kilometer an hour) wind gusts, disruption and damage to Ireland and Britain as the work week gets underway, weather services said on Sunday. Ophelia weakened from a Category 2 to a Category 1 hurricane Sunday as it moved north-northeast across the Atlantic, with sustained winds of 90 mph (145 kph.) It is expected to be downgraded to a post-tropical storm before hitting land in southern Ireland Monday morning, but U.K. Met Office forecaster Luke Miall said it could still pack “hurricane force” winds. Ireland’s Met Eireann weather service said the country’s southern and western counties could get gusts of up to 80 mph (130 kph) along with heavy rain and storm surges. The US National Hurricane Center said the storm could bring 2 to 3 inches (50 mm to 75 mm) of rain in western Ireland and Scotland, with coastal flooding and “large and destructive waves” where it makes landfall.

 

Emergency officials in Ireland said schools would be closed Monday in the eight counties expected to see the strongest winds and under a red weather alert, the highest level. Cyclists and motorists were warned to stay off the roads during the height of the storm. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar tweeted: “Defence forces being deployed in Red weather alert areas and on standby for further action tomorrow”. Dublin and Shannon airports advised passengers to check flight information before travelling, while Cork airport in southwest Ireland said cancellations were likely. Britain’s Met Office said 80-mile-an-hour gusts could hit Northern Ireland part of the UK and warned of potential power cuts, flying debris and disruption to transport and phone signals. Strong winds could also hit Scotland, Wales and England.

 

 

30 killed as wildfires rage in Portugal and Spain

 

 

LISBON: At least 27 people have died in fires which have ravaged forests in northern and central Portugal over the past 24 hours, rescuers said on Monday, as three people were killed in Spain in blazes sparked by arsonists and fanned by Hurricane Ophelia. In Portugal, Prime Minister Antonio Costa declared a state of emergency as more than 5,800 firefighters fought some 30 major fires still raging Monday. The 27 deaths, confirmed by Portugal’s national civil protection agency, came four months after 64 people were killed and more than 250 injured on June 17, in the deadliest fire in the country’s history. Even before the latest blazes, nearly 216,000 hectares (530,000 acres) had been consumed by wildfires across the country between January and September, according to estimates from the country’s forest service. The 524 separate fire outbreaks registered on Sunday, by far the most since 2006, were caused by “higher than average temperatures for the season and the cumulative effect of drought, which has been felt since the start of the year”, civil protection agency spokeswoman Patricia Gaspar said. 51 people have been wounded in the fires, 15 seriously, she added. One of the worst hit areas is near Lousa, in the Coimbra region, where 650 firefighters are battling blazes. “We went through absolute hell, it was horrible. There was fire everywhere,” a resident of the town of Penacova, near Coimbra, told RTP television. Two brothers in their 40s who were from her town and were trying to help put out the blaze were among the fatalities. In the northwestern Spanish region of Galicia, on the Portuguese border, authorities were blaming arson for about 17 fires which have caused three deaths.

 

“They are absolutely intentional fires, premeditated, caused by people who know what they are doing,” said Alberto Nunez Feijoo, the head of the Galicia regional government, who also announced Galicia would observe three days of mourning. On Monday, the “situation remained very worrying”, Feijoo said, adding that firefighters along with soldiers and locals were battling the flames. Spanish Interior Minister Juan Ignacio Zoido said in a tweet that “several people have been identified in connection to the fires in Galicia”. The fires were being fanned by wind gusts of up to 90 kilometres (55 miles) per hour as Hurricane Ophelia moved north off the coast of Spain towards Ireland, Zoido told private broadcaster La Sexta. “We have not had a situation like this in the past decade. We have never deployed so many means at this time of the year,” he said. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who is from Galicia, plans to visit the region later Monday. Five wildfires near Vigo, Galicia’s biggest city, forced the evacuation of a shopping mall and a PSA Peugeot Citroen factory on the outskirts of the city, though workers were able to return to the factory on Monday. The flames had reached O Castro, a large hilltop park in the heart of Vigo with sweeping views of the city’s estuary, Spanish public television station TVE reported.

 

Two people also died inside their vehicle near Nigran, outside Vigo, as they tried to escape the flames. “It was very sudden, it was crazy,” the city’s mayor said on television. In Carballeda de Avia, an elderly man was found dead near his shed behind his house. Images broadcast on Spanish TV showed local residents, their mouths and noses covered with handkerchiefs, trying to contain the flames with buckets and pans of water. The city of around 300,000 residents has opened up two sports centres and booked rooms in three hotels for people who had to evacuate their homes. At least 10 schools cancelled classes on Monday in Vigo because of the flames, local officials said. Spain’s rail operator Renfe said it had cancelled train service between Vigo and Barcelona because of the wildfires, and several roads in Galicia were closed because of the flames, local officials said. The national weather office is forecasting rain and cooler temperatures in Galicia starting Monday, which officials hope will help put out the flames. Meteorologists say Ophelia is the most powerful hurricane recorded so far east in the Atlantic and the first since 1939 to travel so far north. Though Ophelia was downgraded to a storm before it hit the coast of Ireland, schools there were closed on Monday as the country braced for violent winds and rain, with the weather service warning people to remain indoors.

 

 

Militants kill five in attack in Egypt’s Sinai

 

 

CAIRO: Three policemen, one Security Guard and a civilian were killed and a number of other people injured in an attack by militants in Egypt’s North Sinai province on Monday, the interior ministry said. The militants attacked a security post securing a National Bank of Egypt branch in Arish, the provincial capital, with explosives and guns, a statement said. Egypt is fighting an insurgency against militants affiliated with Islamic State in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula where hundreds of security forces have been killed since 2013. Attacks on security forces have been common since Islamist president Mohamed Mursi was ousted in 2013 following mass protests against his rule. The militants raided the bank branch and stole an amount that had yet to be valued, the statement said. Forces were searching the area for the perpetrators and had defused some explosives. Security sources told Reuters that three Egyptian policemen, one security guard and three civilians were killed and 22 others were injured in the attack. Witnesses said armed militants in five cars fired on security forces near a church and the NBE branch before fleeing the scene. “The militants fired shots randomly in the street as if they were celebrating, with some of them raising their black flags (of Islamic State). They roamed the streets for about 20 minutes then disappeared,” said Alaa Lotfy, a shop owner in the area who witnessed the clashes. At least 24 militants and six soldiers were killed on Sunday in attacks on military outposts in North Sinai.


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