News Flash – 25 September 2017

National News

 

 

Fire breaks out in commercial building in Mumbai; none hurt

 

 

MUMBAI: A fire broke out in a commercial building in suburban Kandivali here this morning, with four to five persons rescued from the spot, a civic official said. The blaze broke out on the second floor of the three-storey structure located at Ashok Nagar, Kandivali East, said an official of Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation‘s (BMC) Disaster Management Cell. “The Fire brigade received a call at 10.20 am. Our team arrived at the spot at 10.38 am and swung into action to douse the fire which occurred in a commercial establishment. Cooling operations were underway,” the official said. The fire was confined to 4 to 5 galas (commercial shops) on the second floor, he said. Four-five people who were inside the building have been rescued with the help of a ladder. They were unhurt. Eight fire engines and water tankers are at the spot to contain the blaze, the official said, adding that the cause behind the fire is yet to be ascertained.

 

 

City students raise awareness about suicide

 

Bengaluru: In a bid to create awareness about suicide as part of the World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10), students of Garden City University performed a street play on Wednesday. Speaking about the event, Smitha M Reddy, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, said, “Every year we perform a play to create awareness about suicide. However, this year in addition to that, we also highlighted the Blue Whale Challenge and the effect it has on youngsters“. The street play, performed by first and second year students, aims at addressing issues faced by students. “We tell them (students) that they are not alone and that they can seek help whenever needed. We display helpline numbers for them so that anyone can reach out and get all the necessary help,” says Smitha.

 

 

How ‘Pythons’ are helping railways deliver

Long-haul trains like Python are not only helping deliver goods quicker, but are also efficient and cost-effective.

 

 

AGRA: Snaking through the country, several ‘Pythons’ and ‘Anacondas’ are helping deliver a small revolution for the railways. Looking to optimise existing infrastructure to boost freight operations as well as ease congestion on the tracks, the transporter is employing trains over 1.4 kilometres long with as many as 118 wagons. North Central Railways‘ ‘Python’, Western Railways’ ‘Anaconda’, Central Railways’ ‘Maruti’ and other long-haul trains are not only helping deliver goods quicker, but are also efficient and cost-effective, said officials. Each of these trains is made up of two rakes (59 wagons in each), two brake vans and two to three locomotives, and travels nonstop to its destinations. Long-haul trains were identified as a focus area in the railways’ passenger and freight sector action plan for 2017-18, “to meet freight traffic demands requiring movement across already congested sections and to reduce the per-unit cost of operation…” Sanchit Tyagi, divisional commercial manager, Agra division said, “The concept of long-haul trains was mooted some years ago as a pilot project to halve the time required for the journey of two trains, and increase the goods trains operation within the current infrastructure, which is heavily congested.”

 

An average of 15 to 25 such trains run across the country every day. The target is to increase the number to 50 by the end of March 2018, said officials. These trains require longer loop lines, a railway branch line that leaves the main line and rejoins it after a short distance, where trains wait while others can pass. Three such long loop lines have been commissioned, and a total of 109 have been sanctioned across India. Tyagi added, “Almost every second day, we make a long-haul train out of empty wagons (used to ferry coal) near Baad station (next to Mathura). We have a maximum of 45 minutes for this… Since the trains look like long snakes, they are named after the reptiles”. On December 15, 2014, Southern Railways created a record by operating a long haul freight train for the first time. The total weight of the formation was 3,000 tonnes.

 

 

In a first, Bengaluru Metro train stopped by emergency push button

 

BENGALURU: A Namma Metro train came to a halt on Saturday after a passenger pushed the emergency button—used for the first time since its launch in 2011—to help a sick co-passenger alight from the train. The train on the green line was stopped for four minutes near Peenya Dasarahalli at around 11 am and there was no inconvenience caused to the passengers. Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited spokesperson U A Vasanth Rao said that the train was bound for Yelachanalli from Nagasandra and it was about to reach Mahalakshmi Layout when a 25-year-old man felt giddy. Noticing this, Rao said, the man next to him pushed the emergency button and stopped the train. While there were a few anxious moments, Rao said, the loco pilot took control of the situation and took the train to Mahalakshmi Layout from where it reached Rajajinagar where the boy was given the first-aid. And he took the next train to continue his journey. “It was a minor incident and there was no interruption to the train service as such,” Vasantha Rao said. As a rule, stopping the moving train using the emergency button is an offence and it attracts penalty. However, Saturday’s incident was regarded as a genuine case and the passenger who pushed the button was not penalised.

 

 

Big talk on Metro rollout, but no security blueprint

 

 

HYDERABAD: With just two months away for the likely launch of Hyderabad Metro rail, there is no clarity on which police unit will provide the crucial security cover to the city’s future lifeline. In all probability, Hyderabad, Cyberabad and Rachakonda police units might share the burden since HMRL is unwilling to pay `cost’ to Special Protection Force (SPF), a specialised unit. However, officials claim the nitty-gritties were still being worked out and a final decision might be taken in the next two or three weeks. Chief secretary SP Singh had recently issued an order outlining distribution of security-related work responsibilities between police and the metro rail concessionaire L&T. The order was issued after three or four rounds of meetings between various stakeholders, including HMRL, police and L&T, in the last one year. In simple terms, the GO stated that internal security at each station junction was that of the concessionaire, while external security of police. In all probability, the external security responsibility might be given to respective commissionerates depending on the location of the stations junctions. Local police units might be given the brief to handle the external security of Metro stations and junctions. However, the moot question is whether local police would be able to provide security, especially armed security, at each metro station? For Delhi Metro, Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) provides integrated security cover. Apart from armed security, CISF personnel carry out frisking and baggage scanning operations. Already, the three commissionerates were reeling under severe staff crunch. With just two months away, can local police personnel be trained for the specialised requirement?.

 

When contacted, HMRL managing director NVS Reddy clarified that all stations would have foolproof security. “There will be foolproof security system in place. Already, DGP and commissioners are working out the modalities (external security). There will be 360 degree cameras and other gadgets, which we cannot disclose for security reasons. We want to depend more on technology and not just manpower for security. We will announce the final mechanism in the next two or three weeks,” Reddy said, claiming it would be on par with Delhi Metro. Ever since officials started drawing up the metro security blueprint, several changes to ok place. Earlier, it was mooted to have a dedicated security police force for HMRL. However, the proposal was shot down by the powers that be and Special Protection Force (SPF), a unit which was created on the lines of CISF for state requirements, was brought into the picture. Director-General (SPF) Tejdeep Kaur Menon told TOI that SPF personnel were trained for the task (metro security), but the metro rail honchos found the services too costly . Later, a committee, headed by T Krishna Prasad, now Director-General (Road Safety and Railways), was given the brief to study the security requirements for metro rail and submit a report. The officer studied various metro services in the country, including Delhi, and gave a report some time ago. It is learnt that the committee recommended a specialised force. Telangana police brass too felt that a specialised unit would be useful to handle the responsibility.

 

 

Stumped by Tritiya traffic, cops gear up to tackle tough challenges

 

 

KOLKATA: An early start to the festivities left Kolkata grappling with massive traffic snarls that virtually stalled the city on Tritiya evening. Several appointments, trains and flights were missed as large swathes of central and north Kolkata saw a bumper-to-bumper traffic. The gridlock late in the evening forced police commissioner Rajeev Kumar to hit the street to take stock of the situation. The morning had started with a promise. Barring a few stretches near Hatibagan and Sarat Bose Road, the cops were able to keep jams at bay. But once some religious processions took off around Entally and Moulali in the afternoon, vehicles came to a halt. By 5.30pm, the major pujas were drawing in thousands – Ekdalia Evergreen, 41 Pally, Jodhpur Park, Kumartuli Park and Suruchi Sangha were clearly the favourites. By late evening, EM Bypass got clogged. The closure of Cornfield Road led to more chaos in the Garihat region. It did not even matter that some biggies — like Md. Ali Park in central Kolkata — had not opened gates. “In the morning, there were some breakdowns on Bijan Setu, Maa Flyover and AJC Bose Road flyover. The religious procession near Sealdah was managed by us. However, the shopping crowd severely disrupted traffic at CR Avenue, SN Banerjee Road, MG Road, Rashbehari Avenue, MG Road, Hatibagan, New Market and Vivekananda Road. Those returning home from work and thousands of revellers on the pandal trail added to the chaos.

 

We had to close down parts of Rabindra Sarani and Bagbazar Street to allow movement of idols,” said a senior IPS officer. The Kolkata traffic police Facebook page reflected the situation aptly. Messages began pouring in from people getting stuck in endless jams. “It took me 1 hour 20 minutes to reach Bridge No. 4 from Sector V and three hours to reach Behala,” commented Angshuman Roy. Payel Samaddar from Jadavpur said she was “literally stranded” near Manicktala. Police sources cited several reasons — the loss of road space due to barricades being one — for the mess. One example is probably CR Avenue. Two, several arterial roads have been blocked due to Durga Pujas. “When all vehicles are vying for the same stretch, it will lead to jams,” said an officer. The traffic chaos could lead to a review of the allocation of force. “We want to keep the process dynamic. For example, when we found the crowd swelling at Hatibagan, we diverted some of our men from the Sealdah pujas,” said a source. DC (traffic) V Solomon Nesakumar said all their effort was to keep the four most important roads — CR Avenue, RB Avenue, DH Road and EM Bypass — free. “We are constantly monitoring these roads so that the city does not collapse,” said Solomon.

 

 

15,000 turn up to clean Tamirabarini

Students clean the Tamirabarini river in Tirunelveli

 

 

MADURAI: Over 15,000 people participated in a cleaning drive on Saturday on the perennial Tamirabarini river. They included about 10,000 students from 30 colleges and 20 schools, 5,000 people including teachers, members of revenue employee’s association, police and fire service personnel besides employees of various other departments. Tirunelveli collector Sandeep Nanduri inaugurated the cleaning work near the collector’s office in the presence of K R P Prabhaharan, Member of Parliament. He said that the riverbed from Karuppanthurai to Vannarpettai had been taken up for cleaning in the first phase and the same work would be replicated on a larger area in the second phase. Both the banks of the river to a distance of 120 kms, which is 60 kilometres on each bank from Pabanasam to Tirunelveli four-way bridge, were cleaned.

 

 

International News

 

 

Gunman opens fire in Nashville church; 1 dead, 7 wounded

The scene where people were injured when a gunman opened fire at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, in Nashville

 

 

NASHVILLE: A masked gunman invaded a Nashville church on Sunday and opened fire, walking silently down the aisle as he shot unsuspecting congregants. At least one person was killed and seven others wounded, authorities said. An usher confronted the shooter, who apparently shot himself in the struggle before he was arrested, police said. No motive was immediately determined. Church members told investigators that the suspect had attended services a year or two ago, said Don Aaron, a spokesman for the Metro Nashville Police Department. The gunman pulled into the parking lot at the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ as services were ending. He fatally shot a woman who was walking to her vehicle, then entered the rear of the church with two pistols and kept firing, hitting six people, Aaron said. Authorities identified the attacker as Emanuel Kidega Samson, 25, of Murfreesboro, who came to the United States from Sudan in 1996 and was a legal U.S. resident. It was unclear whether the self-inflicted wound to the chest was intentional, Aaron said. The gunman was discharged hours later from Vanderbilt University Hospital but remained in police custody. Warrants charging him with murder and attempted murder were pending, Aaron said. Witness Minerva Rosa said the usher was “a hero”. “He’s amazing,” said Rosa, a member of the church for eight years. “Without him, I think it could be worse”. The suspect said nothing as he fired. While the gunman made his way down the aisle, Rosa said, the pastor started shouting, “`Run! Run! Gunshots!”. Aaron called the usher, 22-year-old Robert Engle, “an extraordinarily brave individual”. The woman who was killed in the parking lot was identified as Melanie Smith, 39, of Smyrna, Tennessee.

 

The gunman and six others were treated for gunshot wounds at nearby hospitals, along with Engle, who was pistol-whipped, Aaron said. Witnesses were being interviewed by police. Forty-two people were at the church at the time of the shooting, and that all victims were adults, Aaron said. The small brick church describes itself on its website as a “friendly, Bible-based group of folks who love the Lord and are interested in spreading his word to those who are lost”. Photos on the church’s Facebook page show a diverse congregation with people of various ages and ethnicities. After the attack, the nearby New Beautiful Gate Church opened its doors to Burnette Chapel churchgoers as they reunited with loved ones. New Beautiful Gate Pastor Michael Moseby said he is neighbors with Burnette Chapel Pastor Joey Spann. “As a pastor myself, you come with the expectation of sitting down and having a service and not thinking about what can happen around you,” Moseby said. “You never know who is going to come to the door or what reasons they would come to the door, come to your church and do something like that. We’re always on guard. We just thank God many more weren’t hurt”. Nashville Mayor Megan Barry said in a statement that the shooting was “a terrible tragedy for our city.” She said her administration “will continue to work with community members to stop crime before it starts, encourage peaceful conflict resolution and promote non-violence”.

 

 

Mexico quake: As search continues, thousands homeless

Rescuers at the site of a collapsed building in Mexico City.

 

 

MEXICO CITY: As the search continued Sunday for survivors and the bodies of people who died in quake-collapsed buildings in Mexico, thousands of people have been left homeless because their houses or apartment buildings are uninhabitable. Specialists have fanned out to inspect buildings and determine which are unsafe after Tuesday’s magnitude 7.1 earthquake, which has killed at least 318. Civil Defense chief Luis Felipe Puente reported the new death toll on Twitter and said 180 of the deaths came in the capital. Mexico City mayor Miguel Angel Mancera reported that 7,649 properties have been examined and 87 percent of those are safe and require only minor repairs. But that means about 1,000 left standing have been determined to be uninhabitable _ and the number seemed likely to rise as more are inspected. Mancera also said Saturday night on Twitter that nearly 17,000 people have been ‘attended to’ at 48 shelters, though it’s not clear how many of those are being housed there. Many are bunking with family or friends. Families have been camped out for days at the site of collapsed apartment and office buildings awaiting word on missing loved ones and holding out hope they may still be found alive.

 

Inspectors were also evaluating the safety of schools and planned to begin getting kids back in classrooms after nearly a week away. The government said it would soon release information about which schools have been cleared to reopen Monday. Search and rescue crews have pulled dozens of lifeless bodies from the wreckage of buildings- and numerous survivors, too. Mexico’s marines, considered the nation’s most elite troops, said they have recovered 102 bodies and rescued 115 people in the aftermath. Many of those survivors are now in hospitals with injuries ranging from fractures and bruises to severe brain injuries. Many face an uncertain future. In a hospital room blocks away from where he survived 26 hours buried under the rubble of his nine-story apartment building, Jose Luis Ponce lay sedated and on a respirator Saturday, alive but with fractures to multiple bones and damage to his lungs and a kidney. “You said you would be with me always,” his daughter, Claudia Ponce, 30, told him. “Now is not the moment to leave”.


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