News Flash – 29 June 2018

National News

 

 

Mumbai plane crash: Aircraft did not have a certificate of airworthiness

 

MUMBAI: A 26-year-old charter aircraft, on its way to a landing at Juhu airport during a test flight, crashed into open space near a construction site in the crowded Mumbai suburb of Ghatkopar on Thursday afternoon, killing all four crew members and a labourer on the ground. Had the King Air C90 aircraft, which appeared to have lost control when it was around 700 feet over the ground, plunged into any of the highrises in the surroundings, it would have been a major tragedy. Both pilots, Capt. Pradeep Rajput and Capt. Maria Zuberi, along with aircraft maintenance engineer Surabhi Gupta and junior technician Manish Pandey died on the spot. A construction labourer, Govind Dubey, was killed in the fire that broke out when the jet fuel tank exploded. At least 35 workers, who were on a lunch break in the basement of the under-construction building, had a lucky escape. Two of the labourers who were on the ground floor were injured. The aircraft, which was on its first flight after being grounded for around nine years, is suspected to have crashed due to mechanical failure. The pilots gave out no distress message or “Mayday” call to Mumbai airport’s air traffic controller. Around 1.10 pm, onlookers along Jivdaya lane saw the plane coming down engulfed in flames. “We were waiting for an autorickshaw when we saw a burning plane falling.

 

It all happened so suddenly. Within seconds it crashed and was engulfed in smoke,” said Nami and Malay Shah, two teens who live nearby. Nami and Malay Shah, two teens who live in Girdhar building near the crash site, said, “We heard three blasts one after the other.” The twin-engine turbo prop had departed for a 50-minute test flight from Juhu airport at 12.20 pm after a puja. Sources from Mumbai and UP said it was the first time the aircraft had taken flight after suffering severe damage in a crash in Allahabad in 2009. “It was owned by the UP government and the cabinet decided to dispose it of than spend heavily to repair it,” said a former UP government official. The aircraft was finally sold in 2014—after three unsuccessful auctions— to a Pune-based company, which then sold it to Mumbai-based U Y Aviation Pvt Ltd, its current owner. Anil Chauhan, accountable manager of UY Aviation, said the aircraft was in “the hangar of a maintenance company, Indamer, for over a year and a half, undergoing major repairs. When asked when was the last time it flew, he said, “It was earlier with the UP government and must have flown about six years ago’’.

 

“Though we have ownership of the aircraft, it was under the care of Indamer company. The aircraft was not yet handed over to us, it did not have a certificate of airworthiness,’’ said Chauhan. The take-off was captured on camera by Indamer engineers — the video is doing rounds on social media — and one can hear applause as the aircraft lifts off the runway. As it slowly climbs out, an onlooker encouragingly shouts “C’mon baby’’. Rajeev Gupta, CEO of Indamer, said the cause of crash is under investigation by the DGCA safety wing. The ill-fated flight left several unanswered questions. Said a senior commander, who is also a KingAir C-90 examiner: “Test flights shouldn’t be carried out in poor weather. It was raining heavily in Mumbai when the aircraft lifted off, that isn’t an ideal condition, the test flight should have been postponed”. Senior Congress leader Madhavrao Scindia had died in a King Air C90 crash in 2001. Ghatkopar police are in the process of registering a case of accidental death.

 

 

Lunch break saves 35 workers at building site

 

 

MUMBAI: Thanks to the lunch break at 1 pm, around 35 labourers working at the construction site escaped the tragedy on Thursday afternoon. Two of them who decided to wait and continue their work sustained minor injuries as they ran to save themselves from the plane approaching them. Among the three injured and admitted at Rajawadi Hospital was also a Ghatkopar resident who had gone to witness the crash with friends. One of the labourers Naresh Kumar Nishad (26) sustained 20% burns on his face. Naresh, whose wife Pooja, too works in the same construction site said all of them were having lunch at the basement of the under construction building when they heard a loud thud. “I don’t know it was my husband who was injured. I only found out later that he was injured by flames from a burning plane,” she said. The couple from Chhattisgarh came to Mumbai three months ago. They jointly make around Rs500 per day, said one of the co-workers. UP native Luv Kush Kumar (21) sustained a leg injury, but is said to be stable by Rajawadi doctors. He said, “I heard a loud noise and immediately turned to see a plane on fire coming towards me in great speed. I didn’t understand what was going on and tried to run for safety. But something came and hit me on the leg and I fell down,” said Kumar, currently admitted at the trauma ward of Rajawadi. Both were working under United One Construction Company, said their co-worker Kushal Kumar.

 

Kaushal said, “I also work at the same construction site as a foreman. I had gone out to eat when the accident took place. Naresh was still at the site for some leftover work. He did not even see the airplane, he just heard the explosions before the fire started and burned his face. He cannot talk properly”. Medical Superintendent of Rajawadi Dr Vidya Thakur said that both are stable though they may have to remain hospitalised for a few days. The third injured Prashant Mahakal (23) too is stable, but is likely to need a surgery for the tendon tear on the right ankle. The engineering graduate, who had gone to the crash site with three of his friends, suffered the cut wound from a debris that was lying scattered at the crash site. Some of his friends, all residents of Kapadia Chawl, have claimed that they rushed to the spot to lend a helping hand. His brother said, “He has completed electronic engineering from Ratnamala College. He now has a job in Wipro in Thane. He had a day off and was at home. We might shift him to a private hospital for his operation for the tendon tear”.

 

 

CCTV cameras at CM Arvind Kejriwal’s residence lagged by 40 minutes: Forensic report

 

 

NEW DELHI: The forensic report of footage gathered from chief minister Arvind Kejriwal‘s residence on the day when chief secretary Anshu Prakash was allegedly assaulted by a group of MLAs during a meeting shows that the timing shown in the clip of the CS entering and exiting was 40 minutes and 43 seconds behind the actual time. Sources said that the reports which were received on Monday do not mention whether the timings on the cameras were intentionally tampered with, but a probe has been initiated to establish this. Cops had questioned Kejriwal’s personal advisor V K Jain in this regard to find out whether the timings were changed by someone after AAP MLAs Prakash Jarwal and Amanatullah Khan had assaulted the chief secretary. The footage showed the CS leaving the chief minister’s residence after the assault. Both Khan and Jarwal were arrested in the case. It was found that out of the 21 CCTV cameras installed at the house, seven were not functional. Police sources said that the statements of four other IAS officers who were privy to the conversations and schedules of the ministers were recorded by police after the forensic reports were received.

 

Some of the ministers had also misbehaved with these officers. Police are in the process of preparing a charge sheet in the case and waiting for some other probe reports. Cops have not ruled out the possibility of naming Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and the 11 ministers present during the midnight meeting where the CS was assaulted in the charge sheet. Senior officers said that they are still consulting legal experts regarding this. All senior ministers, including Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia, have been questioned by police regarding the incident. Prakash had mentioned in his complaint that none of the ministers present in the room had tried to stop the two MLAs when they were assaulting him. A case of assault, preventing a public servant from discharging his duties and criminal conspiracy has been registered.

 

 

Burglars flee with Rs 5 lakhs booty from flat in 20 minutes

 

 

BENGALURU: Unidentified burglars broke down the main door and looted valuables worth Rs 5 lakh in less than 20 minutes from a flat in Sanjaynagar, a busy residential area in north Bengaluru, in broad daylight on Thursday. Mangesh Gangaram Nagarkar, a project manager with NNE Ltd in Sadashivnagar and a resident of Vijay Deep apartment, Amarjyoti Layout, filed a complaint claiming burglars made away with gold and silver ornaments worth around Rs 5 lakh and Rs 8,000 in cash. “My wife Shraddha locked the house at 11.20am and went to pick up our son from playschool,” Mangesh stated in his complaint. “She returned around 11.40am and was shocked to see the front door broken. The cupboards in the bedrooms too were broken and gold and silver ornaments in them missing”. Mangesh said there are no CCTV cameras in his three-floor apartment block which houses 10 flats. “We have one security guard who is not a professional,” Mangesh told TOI. “The guard also runs errands for residents in the apartment. According to him, he was busy with some other work when the incident took place”.

 

Sanjaynagar police said they suspect it to be the handiwork of professional burglars. “The manner in which the burglars broke down the door and cupboards shows they are professionals. Unfortunately, there are no CCTV cameras in the apartment. However, we have collected fingerprints and other evidence. The fingerprints will be sent to the records bureau in a day or two. There it will be matched with old and habitual offenders,” Sanjaynagar police said. 2 cabbies claim they stole from 100 shops. Two cab drivers, who were arrested for breaking into a shop and stealing cash, have allegedly admitted to have committed more than 100 such offences in Bengaluru and surrounding districts. Police said they took the duo, Gangaraju, 28, and Gangadhar, 32, both from Chikkaballapura, on a recce to verify their claims and found that no complaints had been filed in most cases. “They confessed they’d committed more than 100 burglaries and we took them to several shops they named,” a police officer said. “The shop owners confirmed the thefts but said they hadn’t filed a complaint as the money lost was not a big sum”. The duo stole from shops, including groceries and druggists, in and around Bengaluru, Tumakuru, Chikkaballapura, Bagepalli, Madhugiri and Ramanagara at night.

 

 

Cash management firm staffer robbed of Rs 6 lakh on busy road

Police investigating at the spot in Karelibaug and (Right) CCTV grab of the robber snatching the bag of cash.

 

 

VADODARA: A busy road in Karelibaug witnessed high drama on Thursday afternoon, when three unidentified men carried out a daring robbery of Rs 6 lakh, from an employee of a cash management services agency. The guard accompanying the employee opened fire, but the trio of robbers snatched the bag full of cash and disappeared within five seconds. Police are hunting for a black Swift Dzire car, the trio’s getaway vehicle. According to police, the robbery took place at 1.30pm, when Ankit Thakur, an employee of Writer Safeguard Ltd, was on his way to replenish the cash in the HDFC ATM at Spring Hill Complex. CCTV footage shows that two robbers arrived soon after the van stopped near Spring Hill Complex. One waited outside the ATM door, while the other accused stood nearby. After the van stopped on the road, Thakur took out a bag full of cash and began walking to the ATM. The armed guard was a few feet behind Thakur. Just as he was about the enter the ATM booth, the accused with the cap lunged for the bag and snatched it.

 

When Thakur tried to resist, the robber standing nearby tried to attack him while the third one ran in. Thakur lost his balance and fell and the accused held on to the bag. The third accused, meanwhile, drew a country-made pistol and pointed it at Thakur. According to police, when the guard fired a shot the robber dropped the pistol and all three fled in a car that was parked nearby. Thakur later realized he had been stabbed in the hand and stomach by the person who had snatched the bag. “We verified the car’s registration number but it turned out to be fake. We have sounded an alert and begun a search for the accused, who may try to flee the city,” said R I Jadeja, Karelibaug police inspector. “It seems the gang had reconnoitered how the van would replenish the ATM and planned the robbery,” he added.

 

 

International News

 

 

Explosion kills 8 Afghans as they call for peace

 

 

KABUL: A bomb killed eight people at a small gathering calling for peace in the Afghan province of Logar today, officials said, underscoring the suffering of civilians amid growing calls for an end to the conflict. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast in the volatile province south of the capital Kabul, but officials said the bomb was detonated as a crowd of war-weary locals had gathered in the district of Charkh to demand peace. “Eight people, all of them civilians, were killed. Four more injured. They had gathered in support of peace,” Charkh district governor Mohammad Hanif Hanafi, told AFP. Shamshad Laraway, a spokesman for the provincial governor, confirmed the account, and said the authorities were investigating the nature of the blast. Calls for peace have gathered steam in the war-ravaged country after the Taliban agreed to a three-day ceasefire during the Muslim festival of Eid early this month.

 

The ceasefire, the first in the nearly 17 years since the US invasion toppled the Taliban regime, saw unprecedented scenes of Taliban fighters and security forces hugging and taking selfies together around the country. The insurgents returned to the battlefield last week after refusing a government request to extend their ceasefire over Eid, though calls for peace by the Afghan public have been growing. Earlier this month dozens of activists from southern Helmand province arrived in Kabul after marching hundreds of miles on foot to call for an end to the violence. Yesterday, another 25-member group of Afghans arrived in Kabul from the remote north-eastern Kunar province, while earlier in the week, some 15 protesters reached the capital after trekking all the way from the border with Pakistan to join the calls for an end to the bloody conflict.

 

 

At least five dead in Annapolis newsroom shooting

 

WASHINGTON: At least five people were killed Thursday when a gunman opened fire inside the offices of the Capital Gazette, a newspaper based in Annapolis, a historic city an hour east of Washington. Police described the suspect — who was being questioned in custody — as a white adult male who was armed with a rifle or a shotgun and appeared to have acted alone. A reporter for the daily, Phil Davis, tweeted a chilling account of how the “gunman shot through the glass door to the office and opened fire on multiple employees”. “There is nothing more terrifying than hearing multiple people get shot while you’re under your desk and then hear the gunman reload,” Davis said. There were five known fatalities, the acting police chief of Anne Arundel County, Bill Krampf, told a news conference in Maryland‘s capital. Lieutenant Ryan Frashure, a police spokesman, said three other people had been injured. Anne Arundel county executive Steve Schuh added on CNN that the suspect “has not been particularly cooperative,” and that police had not been able to confirm his name. Krampf said police had disposed of a suspected explosive device and that the four-story office building was now secure. He said 170 people had been safely escorted out of the building. Capital Gazette editor Jimmy DeButts tweeted that he was “devastated & heartbroken. Numb.” While it was not yet clear if journalists had been deliberately targeted, the shooting revived memories of a 2015 incident in Roanoke, Virginia in which two journalists were shot dead during a live broadcast on local television. “Every shooting like this is horrific but one that occurs in a place of journalism is particularly disturbing and brings back the flood of memories of that tragic day for me,” said Andy Parker, whose daughter Alison was one of the Roanoke victims. President Donald Trump tweeted a message of support.

 

“My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. Thank you to all of the First Responders who are currently on the scene,” he wrote. “Absolutely devastated to learn of this tragedy in Annapolis,” Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said. “Please, heed all warnings and stay away from the area. Praying for those at the scene and for our community”. Several lawmakers weighed in, calling for an end to gun violence. “My heart is with the families, friends and loved ones of the victims as we learn more about this terrible situation,” Chris Van Hollen, the state’s junior senator said. “We must unite to end the violence”. A recent study found that Americans own 40 per cent of the world’s firearms despite accounting for only four per cent of the global population. Of the 857 million guns owned by civilians, 393 million are in the United States — more than all of the firearms held by ordinary citizens in the other top 25 countries combined, according to the Small Arms Survey. Advocates of tougher gun laws have stepped up their efforts in the wake of numerous school shootings this year, including the killing of 17 people at a Parkland, Florida high school in February and the killing of 10 people at a Texas high school in May. So far the results have been relatively modest. Florida has raised the legal age to buy firearms from 18 to 21, while Texas Governor Greg Abbott focused on mental health and improving school safety in his list of recommendations following the Santa Fe shooting in the rural southeast of his state. But he also called for requiring gun owners to report lost firearms and for allowing law enforcement to temporarily take away guns from people determined by courts to be “potentially dangerous” to themselves or others.

 

 

US, UK teams join Thailand’s search for 13 missing in cave

US Special Operations Command Pacific Search and Rescue team personnel; walk out of a cave where young soccer team and their coach are believed to be missing.

 

 

MAE SAI: A US military team and British cave experts joined the search in northern Thailand for 12 boys and their soccer coach missing for five days inside a cave being flooded by near-constant rains. A Thai army general coordinating the rescue said Thursday morning that overnight rain had raised water levels again and authorities switched off power and water pumps for fear of electrical hazards. Power had just been installed a few days earlier to provide lights and better communications and pump out water. Maj. Gen. Bancha Duriyapat said Thai navy SEALs, UK cave-diving experts and a US military team were inside the cave and rescuers were continuing to work despite the rain and setbacks. At a morning briefing between the Thai SEALs and the US team, the Thais explained that water levels had been rising overnight at a rate of about 15 centimeters (6 inches) per hour, complicating efforts to squeeze through tight passages, some of which require divers to contort their bodies around L-shaped bends. The missing boys and coach entered the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Chiang Rai province on Saturday afternoon. The cave complex extends several kilometers (miles) with narrow passageways and uneven ground and is known to flood severely in rainy season. Still, authorities have expressed hope there are dry places on higher ground within the cave where the group may be able to wait. Deputy national police chief Wirachai Songmetta said he would join more than 600 rescuers above ground trying to find shafts that might be possible entrances into the cave. The few shafts found so far did not provide access. “We won’t give up. That’s the key here,” he said as he got into a vehicle that was part of a convoy carrying rescuers.

 

US Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii confirmed a US team of about 30 people was sent to assist the search. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nicole Schwegman said Wednesday that a search and rescue team had been sent at the request of Thailand’s government. Some parents of the missing children have been spending the nights in tents outside the cave entrance as the rain poured. On Thursday morning, a Buddhist monk led a prayer for a small group of relatives, many of them red-eyed and crying during the prayer. Medics sat in a tent nearby, and bicycles, backpacks and soccer cleats the boys left behind remained at the entrance. Anmar Mirza, national coordinator of the National Cave Rescue Commission in the US and editor of the book Manual of US Cave Rescue Techniques, said that in a situation like this it would seem there were only two things that could be done: pump the water down and search for alternative entrances. If there were a high-quality map, drilling would be another possibility, but that is extremely difficult for a number of reasons and could also take days to weeks, he said, adding that it was important not to take needless risks. Mirza said the boys’ youth and health is to their advantage and if the cave is not too cold, they should be able to survive four to five days with no water and a month or more with water but no food. “The biggest concern is them getting desperate and trying to enter swift moving water,” he said.

 

 

Over 400 flights cancelled after Bali volcano eruption

 

BALI: The Indonesian tourist island of Bali closed its international airport Friday, stranding thousands of travelers, as the Mount Agung volcano gushed a 2,500-meter (8,200-feet) column of ash and smoke. The National Disaster Mitigation Agency said the airport closure began early Friday. It said nearly 450 flights were canceled, affecting 75,000 people. The regional volcanic ash advisory center in Darwin, Australia, said winds could carry the ash southwest toward Java, Indonesia’s most densely populated island. Volcanic ash is a potentially deadly threat to aircraft that can cause engines to “flame out”. The volcano began gushing smoke Thursday. Its alert level has not been raised and an exclusion zone around the crater remains at 4 kilometers. Agung, about 70 kilometers (45 miles) northeast of Bali’s tourist hotspot of Kuta, last had a major eruption in 1963, killing about 1,100 people. It had a dramatic increase in activity last year, forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands of people, but had quietened by early this year. Authorities lowered its alert status from the highest level in February. Indonesia, an archipelago of more than 250 million people, sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” and is prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Government seismologists monitor more than 120 active volcanoes.


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