News Flash – 21 August 2018

National News



4 knife-wielding men board express train at Kalyan, rob sleepy passengers


Kalyan: It was a little after midnight on Monday. Bhiwandi resident Malikram Gupta (21), who was travelling in a packed unreserved coach of the LTT-Gorakhpur Kushinagar Express, was nudged out of slumber as a man stood in front of him, flashing a knife towards Gupta. As the train trundled along the tracks, somewhere between Kalyan and Kasara, the man demanded that Gupta part with whatever valuables he had with him. “He snatched my cellphone and Rs 2,000,” Gupta police complaint mentions. Gupta and other groggy eyed passengers on the Bihar bound train watched in horror as the robber’s three accomplices, also carrying knives, pushed their way about in the crowded coach, relieving other passengers of their valuables. “Most of us were shocked, especially some who had just been rudely woken up from their sleep,” said Gupta, a tailor. “They went about threatening passengers to bring out cash while warning other passengers not to cause trouble. I saw them rob at least six people around me”. The drama on the moving train went on until around 1.30 am when the train neared Kasara station. The four thieves then started moving towards the door. That’s when one of the passengers in the coach lunged at them and a few other passengers followed suit.


Realising that they were being cornered, three of the men hurriedly jumped onto the platform before the train had halted. The passengers managed to nab one of the four. The arrested accused, Rajendra Prasad Rajput (28), is from Vidisha in Madhya Pradesh, said a railway police official. After raining a few blows on him, the passengers handed him over to the uniformed personnel at the station. Railway police officials said that an initial estimate of the booty—most of it being cash and cellphones—has been pegged around Rs 30,000. In the past, robbers have targeted trains bound for Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, on the Kalyan-Kasara stretch. “This is because most passengers avoid lodging a complaint as they are not keen on breaking their journey,” said a police officer. Senior railway police inspector Dinkar Pingle said they are now looking for the other three who escaped. A Railway Protection Force official said that two of their personnel were in a reserved coach on the train.



In just 20 days, Kerala gets highest August rains in 87 years

A Kochi family wrote ‘THANKS’ on their rooftop after a Navy helicopter airlifted two women from the same place three days ago. Piloted by commander Vijay Varma, the copter had also airlifted a woman in labour & rushed her to a Navy hospital, where she delivered a baby.



Kochi: In just the first 20 days of August, Kerala has received the highest rainfall for the entire month in 87 years, India Meteorological Department data reveals. The state has got 771mm rainfall from August 1 to 20 this year. This the highest for the month since 1931, when Kerala had witnessed its wettest month of August on record with 1,132mm of rain, said Pulak Guhathakurta, head of the climate data management and services, IMD. August rainfall in the state so far has been 2.5 times the normal for the period, with Idukki district breaking a 111-year record for highest rainfall in the month. The worst flood-affected district in the state, Idukki has been pounded with 1,419mm rain in August so far. The previous highest was 1,387mm recorded way back in 1907.



Fire breaks out in AIIMS college


New Delhi: A major fire at the nursing school of AIIMS on Monday afternoon gutted documents and damaged some equipment used for training. Though no one was injured, the incident sparked panic among relatives of some patients. The fire department was informed after officials reported smoke from a classroom. Six fire tenders brought the fire under control around 1pm. A fire official said the blaze started at an air-conditioning unit on the third floor and spread to other rooms. As most of these rooms were stuffed with paper and other equipment, the fire spread rapidly. Several important documents of the nursing school were gutted. An AIIMS official said the classes were empty as students had gone elsewhere to attend a programme. Some employees present in the building were evacuated by fire officials. Chief fire officer Atul Garg said most of the important departments in the building suffered damages due to the blaze. The power supply to nearby areas were cut off during the incident, triggering panic among patients’ relatives who presumed that the fire had spread to these areas as well. “We were asked to step out in the open for some time as the firemen battled the blaze. We were worried that some patients might also be affected,” said Shanta Kumari, who had come to the hospital to meet a relative from Chennai. The police said an inquiry had been initiated to determine the cause of the fire. An FIR for causing damage with fire has been registered.



Aid trickles into Kodagu: Each family gets Rs. 3,800 food grains

TO A SAFER PLACE: A woman is rescued from a flooded area in Kodagu on Monday.



Bengaluru/Mysuru: In a disappointment to 6,500 people sheltered in relief camps across Kodagu, the Karnataka government on Monday announced an “initial compensation” of Rs 3,800 in cash and food grain to every family affected by the torrential rain and landslides in the district over the past three weeks. Over 1,600 houses have been damaged in the district, which received nearly thrice the normal rain for the month in the first three weeks of August. The previous record was in 1924. Describing the situation as “far more severe than the flood fury in North Karnataka in 2010”, chief minister HD Kumaraswamy said the government would do everything possible for the people of Kodagu to rebuild their lives. The toll went up to 12 on Monday. The majority, traumatised by landslides, chose to stay put in relief centres. The chief minister promised 2,000 temporary sheds within a week for those who have lost their houses. Immediately, besides the cash, each family will get 5kg rice, 1kg sugar and tur dal, 1 liter of palm oil and 5 litres of kerosene. Many inmates at relief camps said they had lost all their belongings and were living on the generosity of donors. The CM visited Kodagu over the weekend and held a meeting with officials on Monday. “All those stranded have been rescued and shifted to relief centres. However, I have asked rescue teams to stay put in the district for 2-3 more days as a precautionary measure,” he said. Assuring maximum cash assistance to people, irrespective of their financial position, to rebuild their houses, Kumaraswamy said he has asked officials to prepare a detailed plan.



Kodagu’s terrain presents big challenge for rescuers


Madikeri: With its scattered population, hilly terrain, landslides and limited connectivity, the Kodagu mayhem is a major challenge for rescue and relief teams. A column of the Dogra Regiment of the Indian Army, NDRF, SDRF, civil defence and many others are working in relief operations in the district. They are being assisted by villagers and locals, but it’s hard going. A Karnataka State Police officer, who was part of Uttarakhand floods operation, said Kodagu presents a very different challenge. “In Uttarakhand, we reached people only after five or six days, but they had all gathered in one place and helicopters were used to rescue them,” the officer said. “We could also use boats. But here we can’t use choppers or boats. Moreover, flood victims here are scattered around the district which is making the task difficult. We have to create new routes with the help of locals to reach them.” He also revealed landslides in Uttarakhand were isolated cases unlike in Kodagu. Other officers said operations in Kodagu are more citizen-driven than administration-driven. District administration officials too are helpless since they have no exact record of the number of people in estates. Communication networks too have been destroyed.


“Since roads have collapsed and communication is down, it takes a lot of time to reach people who are stranded,” an official said. “Shockingly, we sometimes have to convince them to come with us. They are so attached to the house or village they live in”. Continuing bad weather has hampered search operations. “Here you have trek forests, cross rivers using ropes and then bring victims to safety. It consumes a lot of time,” an official said”. The Karnataka State Police has roped in personnel from the counter-terrorist squad and Anti-Naxal force to help with operations since they specialize in work with rope. An officer of NDRF, who helped with operations in Chennai during the floods, said: “We didn’t have the problem of landslides or a breakdown in communication networks there and we could carry around and use boats. Here we have sometimes trekked 15km to save people”. Choppers can’t be used because of the fog, rain and the forest terrain, he said.



Woman dies at Ranchi hospital after injection from Security Guard



Ranchi: A 70-year-old diabetes patient admitted to Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (Rims) in Ranchi died after she was allegedly administered an injection by a security guard on Sunday. Kamla Devi was admitted to the Rims medicine ward after she complained of acute gastroenteritis last Tuesday and was responding well to treatment. Following Devi’s death, the administration issued show cause notice to security guard Naveen Kumar Jha and the nurse on duty. They have also formed a 4-member team, including Rims deputy director (administration) Girija Shankar and superintendent Dr Vivek Kashyap, to investigate the allegations. “The guard has been taken off duty and we have asked the nurse to present her side. We will also write to the family of deceased for their version of story before the committee submits its report to the director,” Kashyap said. The guard has refuted the allegations. “I did not administer any injection to any patient nor was I directed to do so by any nurse. I had refused to clean the area after the patient died and that made her relatives of angry. They are now falsely making false allegations against me,” Jha said. A source at Rims, however, said incidents of unqualified people administering treatment to patients is not uncommon at the state’s premier hospital. “Similar incidents, including dressing a patients’ wounds by security guards in operation theatre and nurses asking for money from patients, have been reported in the past,” he said.



Kerala Resumes Life On an Uncertain Note


Kalady: P Bhuvanachandran, a resident of Thodaparambu is utterly devastated. The floodwater had gone as high as the power lines here and on Monday afternoon, his entire belongings, including damaged appliances, furniture and a scooter, lay scattered on the courtyard of his house. A tear drop coasted down his cheek before he regained composure to speak. “Even the clothes we wear and the food we have now are borrowed. For the rich, they will have some savings left to start over but for us that is not the case, we are broke and in debt,” said Bhuvanachandran, whose single-storey house remained submerged for at least three days. He and his wife Sophie had come to Thodaparambu seven years ago to find work and have been staying here on rent ever since. Three years ago, he had a motor accident, which forced him out of his earlier job as a manual labourer. Sophie stepped up then and took up a job as a maid and earned enough to start a shop of her own. But now, even that shop has been destroyed in the flood. “She had purchased all these appliances on EMI and the payments are pending. The scooter which she used to travel around is damaged as well,” said Bhuvanachandran.


A few kilometres away at Vachal, Santhosh Pinakkanpady’s house is badly damaged. “I remember coming back to check on my neighbours on an inflated rubber tube. The power lines were right above and I had to hold on to the cables to pull myself close to my neighbourhood,” said Santhosh. GK Sasi and wife Jaima who stay nearby had built their house near a paddy field to realize a long-pending dream. He was careful enough to build his two-story house above a concrete structure about 10ft high. However, the waters caught him unawares. “My husband was sure that the water will not rise much and we stayed in the top most part. I had gone to the kitchen in the first floor wading through the water to cook some food and a snake got tangled on my leg, making my skin crawl. We spent about 24 hours there before our neighbours came with a raft to get us out,” said Jaima. In the region, similar destruction was experienced in Neelishwaram, Okkal, Koovapady, Kanjoor and Kalady panchayats and parts of Perumbavoor municipality.



Traffic crawls: Few hours of rain adds several hours to travel time


Hyderabad: It took just a few hours of rain to bring traffic to a grinding halt on many major stretches in the city. Traffic snarls forced commuters to spend nearly an hour to navigate a distance of 6-7 km on such gridlocked stretches. In fact, most commuters complained that they spent nearly double the time commuting on Monday than they usually do. Stretches that saw heavy congestion include Hafeezpet to Gachibowli, Gachibowli to Manikonda, SD Road, Paradise to Begumpet, LV Prasad Eye Hospital to Punjagutta Road, CM’s Camp Office to Nagarjuna Circle and Lakdikapul to Ameerpet. “During heavy downpour, many bikers stopped in the middle of flyover as under construction Metro corridor provided them some shelter. It not only slowed down the movement of other vehicles, but after a point brought traffic movement to a standstill on the flyover. It took almost an hour to reach Road no. 3, Banjara Hills from Begumpet Metro station today, though usually it does not take more than 10 minutes,” said Anand Reddy, a commuter. The battered and pothole riddled roads too did their bit to slow down traffic speeds. While main road from Park Hyatt to Nagarjuna Circle has quite a few potholes, the entry to CTO Junction flyover is another stretch that is completely battered and resulted in slowdown of traffic movement to the flyover. Many irate citizens posted photos and vented their anger on social media. In a tweet, Manisha Eerabathini posted, “Travelled 2 hours to get to Manikonda for a recording that I finished in a half hour – I might as well have gone to Warangal”.



Kerala Toll 216; Life Begins On a Clean Slate

SERVICES RESUME: A passenger plane of Alliance Air lands at INS Garuda naval base in Kochi on Monday.



Kochi / Thiruvananthapuram: Lakhs of people who have been rendered homeless by the devastating floods struggled to bring back a semblance of normalcy to their lives as flood waters receded and rains stopped in most parts of Kerala on Monday. With the recovery of six more bodies at Paravoor in Ernakulam district on Sunday night, the death toll since August 8 rose to 216. The last leg of rescue operations continued in some isolated pockets, notably in Chengannur in Alappuzha district where hundreds remained stranded. Lt Gen D R Soni, chief of the Army’s Southern Command, told a news conference in Thiruvananthapuram that drones were being used to reach people trapped in areas not easily accessible. Those returning from relief camps to what was left of their homes faced an uphill task of first cleaning the surroundings even as the state government sent out an SOS for more supplies of disinfectants and bleaching powder. The immediate priority is to ensure that the flood victims don’t fall prey to water-borne infections, especially leptospirosis and those related to the respiratory tract. The insides of many floodlit homes have about 60 cm of mud and slush, officials engaged in rehabilitation said. Most wells too are contaminated, they added. Kerala Water Authority and Kerala State Electricity Board are trying to restore water and power supply in many areas that have been without power and drinking water for the past several days. In a tragedy, a 19-year-old boy committed suicide in Kozhikode district after his class 12 certificate got destroyed in the deluge. Kailash had got admission for a course at Industrial Training Institute and purchased a new set of clothes and set apart some money for higher studies, police said. But when he returned home, he was shocked to find his plus two certificate destroyed.



Heavy rain in south Odisha, Malkangiri worst affected



Bhubaneshwar: Incessant rains disrupted normal life in several parts of southern Odisha, particularly Malkangiri, on Monday with many areas submerged amidst fears of worsening situation. The meteorological department has forecast more downpour till Tuesday. Officials said the worst hit was Malkangiri district, where heavy rains triggered by a low pressure since Sunday inundated many low-lying areas, disrupting vehicular movement and crippling normal life. With flood water flowing around four feet above a bridge over the Pangam river, about 35 kms from Malkangiri, the road traffic between Malkangiri and Jeypore in Koraput district came to a grinding halt, they said. A large number of vehicles were stranded due to severe water-logging which also affected transportation of essential commodities in the region.



More skimming fraudsters on the loose in city?

An unidentified woman, suspected to be a vagrant, tried to break an ATM at Belur in Howrah on Monday. The CCTV image showed she tried to break the machine but did not succeed. The vault was not damaged but the paper roll meant for printing transactions came off.



Kolkata: Are more fraudsters siphoning money by installing skimmers at ATMs still on the loose? The police are looking for an answer after a fresh complaint was lodged at the Maniktala police station, claiming Rs 16,165 was withdrawn from the victim’s account on or before August 8. The police said it was too early to call it a case of skimming as certain facts left a question mark on the nature of crime though the money was indeed withdrawn from an ATM. However, given that the incident took place long after the Romanian gang and the Mumbai gang involved in skimming frauds in Kolkata were nabbed, cops are treating the case seriously. The complaint was lodged by a resident of Sariatulla Lane in Maniktala, Keshab Bakshi. “The incident took place on or before August 8 when an/some unknown accused person/s entered fraudulently withdrew Rs. 16,165,” the FIR stated.


The complaint came on the same day the Kolkata Police claimed to have finally got leads on how the Romanian gangs parked their money outside the country. “The accused had transferred money using international money transfer firms. They had sent money back to Romania at least twice but had destroyed the laptop, which was used to carry out the transfer to eliminate evidence, the police said. The Kolkata Police have also gone to Chandigarh to take the custody of the sixth accused, Miacelia Lucianinoud, who was rounded up last week. “The accused gang had used around 20 ATMs in Delhi to withdraw money from accounts in Kolkatans. When we checked CCTV footages, we found Lucianinoud had close links with three gang members whom we had arrested, including gang leaders Adrian Liviu and Vaico Aurel. We will submit a prayer to a Chandigarh court and bring him here for questioning,” a senior officer said.



International News



Shots fired at US embassy in Turkey, 2 held



Istanbul: Shots were fired from a moving car at the US Embassy in Turkey before dawn Monday, an attack that came during heightened tensions between the two Nato allies. Two people with criminal records were detained. There were no casualties in the fleeting attack, in which three of the six bullets fired hit the embassy gate. “We can confirm a security incident took place at the US Embassy,” an embassy spokesman said. Turkish officials are locked in a trade and diplomatic dispute with the US but they fully condemned the shooting in Ankara. Presidential spokesman tweeted that it was “an attempt to create chaos”.



Man wields knife at cop in Spain, killed



Madrid: A man, wielding a knife and saying the word “Allah” lunged at an officer in a police station near Barcelona, Spain, on Monday in what police said was a terrorist act, and was shot dead. “The officer can only remember that he used the word Allah, the other words were incomprehensible,” regional police chief Rafel Comas said. “On this evidence, for the moment, we are treating it as a terrorist attack.” The attacker “wanted to die himself”, police said, but did not confirm reports that he was a 29-year-old Algerian, saying only he had been in the country “for years”.

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