News Flash – 04 May 2019

National News



Cyclone kills 6 in Odisha, leaves trail of Destruction


Odisha: At least six persons were killed and hundreds left homeless as Cyclone Fani hit Odisha on Friday morning, making landfall near Puri and unleashing its full force with wind speed going up to 175 kmph. Though various government authorities confirmed six deaths, PTI put the toll at 8. The cyclone made landfall south of Puri coast around 8am and then got into Khurda district, of which Bhubaneswar is a part, triggering heavy rainfall along its way, weather officials said. Fani hit Bengal after 10.30pm, hitting the Digha coast with a peak wind speed of 115 kmph. It was scheduled to enter Kolkata’s neighbourhood via Kharagpur with a wind speed of up to 80kmph a little after midnight. It will exit Bengal through Nadia and Murshidabad on Saturday afternoon and sail towards neighbouring Bangladesh. According to Central Water Commission officials, Odisha, Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Assam face a high risk of “receiving extremely heavy rain” in the next 24 hours.



BEST bus goes up in flames, narrow escape for 5 on board

1 DAY, 2 VEHICLE FIRES: Minutes after passengers heard a loud sound and alighted, the BEST bus was in flames near Gokuldham market, Goregaon, on Friday morning; (left) a charred scooter on Lalbaug flyover.



Mumbai: Three passengers, and the conductor and driver had a narrow escape on Friday morning after the BEST bus they were travelling in was engulfed in flames just minutes after they heard a loud sound and alighted. The incident took place near Gokuldham market at Goregaon. Though Fire Brigade officials rushed to the spot and tried to quell the blaze, the vehicle was gutted. While officials declined to comment on the cause, prima facie it appeared to be gas leakage in the CNG tank. The mishap also highlights the issue of poor maintenance which can risk the lives of several passengers who use the red buses as a regular mode of transport. A bus ferries an average 50 passengers during peak hours. “The loud sound came from near the CNG tank pressure gauge. The alert conductor asked passengers to get off immediately, while he and the driver also managed to escape before the bus caught fire,” said BEST spokesperson B A Zodage. Sources said damages were to the tune of over Rs 25 lakh. The bus was later towed to Dindoshi depot. According to the report based on prima facie evidence, the fire started from the CNG tank and a probe is being conducted to ascertain if there was any leakage.



The bus was ferrying passengers on route number 646 from Goregaon station east to Nagri Niwara Prakalp No.1 & 2. The bus is usually crowded during peak hours and is one of the most preferred modes of transport for those living in Goregaon East. Slamming the BEST’s functioning, BMC opposition leader and BEST panel member Ravi Raja said, “They are not serious about maintaining buses properly. First, they do not have adequate funds and there is shortage of manpower/engineers at depots. They should wake up after this incident and not compromise with safety of passengers,” he told TOI. A senior BEST official said there was adequate manpower for inspection and safety of buses, and regular maintenance checks were done before buses left the depots. “We will check the bus card to find out when it was last inspected, cleared and provided with annual CNG maintenance,” he stated.



Dacoity bid foiled in Vasai, 7 arrested



Mumbai: The police foiled a dacoity bid at Sagar Petrol pump in Vasai on Wednesday. Acting on a tip-off, the Valiv police laid a trap and arrested seven individuals. A country-made revolver and two live cartridges were confiscated from the accused, who are all history-sheeters and have cases against them in Mumbai as well as Thane. The seven are residents of Kandivli, Govandi and Bhiwandi.



Turbulent day ahead for city as Fani storms into Kolkata, West Bengal

Cars splash through water on Friday, a few hours before Fani hit Bengal; (above) office-goers wait for buses on their way home.



Kolkata: Cyclone Fani roared into Bengal a little after midnight on Saturday, hitting the Digha coast with a peak wind speed of 115 kmph, after wrecking a large swathe of Odisha’s coastal belt. The storm was likely to enter Kolkata’s neighbourhood early on Saturday morning, reaching an estimated peak speed of 70-80 kmph and bringing very heavy rainfall in its wake, Friday night’s last reports indicated. Fani could rage in Kolkata for several hours till Saturday afternoon before sailing towards Bangladesh through Nadia and Murshidabad, weather officials said. The cyclone raged through East Midnapore with a wind speed of 80-90 kmph, uprooting trees, buckling houses and triggering heavy showers, before approaching the city from the west via Kharagpur. The Bengal government, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation and Kolkata Police started bracing for the worst from Friday afternoon itself, asking malls to close down and shifting residents out of unsafe buildings across the city. Many offices in the city, too, shut early to let employees reach home before the storm hit Kolkata. The airport, however, did not escape chaos. Thousands of arriving passengers both international and domestic found themselves stranded in the absence of enough cabs. Airport officials and police later arranged for additional buses to transport the stranded passengers to various points in the city. Flight operations were suspended at 3pm, six-and-a-half hours ahead of the original shutdown time of 9.30pm announced by the DGCA on Thursday, inconveniencing many passengers who reached early to board flights between 3pm and 9.30pm that eventually got cancelled.



Operations are scheduled to resume at 8am on Saturday but they may get t postponed if the cyclonic weather persists. Officials said flight operations might remain suspended till Saturday evening. Two airlines, Indigo and Air India, have already withdrawn all flights on Saturday. The KMC and cops are bracing for a tough weekend. Nine disaster management teams have been kept ready to rescue people from damaged structures and provide medical aid and a special tree cell has been set up for cutting and removing trees from the city’s prime areas. The health department has kept beds ready for an emergency situation with specialist doctors at the hospitals. Residents of dilapidated buildings across the city were asked to move out to safer places early on Friday morning itself. Civic authorities also opened KMC primary schools and community halls for the evacuees but few agreed to move out initially. A renewed drive by the KMC building department officials, prodded by mayor Firhad Hakim later on Friday, managed to persuade some from Kidderpore, Chitpore, Ripon Street and other areas to shift to nearby shelters. The KMC sewerage and drainage department made arrangements to press into action portable pumps in areas along E M Bypass and in Behala. KMC parks department officials on Friday formed a quick-response team for removal of uprooted trees on Saturday. The state government, anticipating cyclone-triggered disruptions, has deployed public works department staff to remove uprooted trees from roads and broken electric and telephone poles. Quick-response teams, armed with bulldozers and tree cutting instruments, have been set up in the districts.



ATM fraud: 3 held for duping senior citizen



Kolkata: The police have arrested members of an ATM gang nicknamed the Gaya gang for allegedly duping senior citizens by cloning their card when they withdraw money. The three accused have been identified as Mohd. Adil Khan, Mohd. Aftab Alam and Mohd. Aamir Khan. Cops said the three were found to be in possession of scheming devices, cloned cards and a laptop. The arrest took place after a complaint was filed by one AK Gomes, a resident of Picnic Garden. Cops said that all the accused have been sent to a 11-day of police custody. According to police, Gomes alleged that Rs 48,000 was withdrawn from his account even though both his debit and credit cards were with him.



FANI ferocity brings 1999 horror back to Odisha

Cyclone Fani batters Puri after landfall on Friday while Bhubaneswar residents take shelter at the railway station. Over 10,000 villages and 52 towns in nine districts of Odisha were hit.



Bhubaneswar/Puri: At least six persons were killed and thousands made homeless as Cyclone Fani hit Odisha on Friday, making landfall near Puri and unleashing its full force with wind speed going up to 175km. Officials said the cyclone made landfall south of Puri coast between 8am and 10am. Thereafter, it got into Khurda district, of which Bhubaneswar is a part, triggering heavy rainfall on its way. From 10am, the cyclone lashed Bhubaneswar for five hours with wind speed of over 100kmph, uprooting more than 10,000 trees and damaging power and telecommunication lines. Old-timers said the capital city hadn’t seen such a deadly storm since the 1999 Super Cyclone. Most arterial roads in the city were blocked by uprooted trees and many low-lying areas remained inundated. Airports Authority of India is trying to reopen the Bhubaneswar airport, which has been shut since Thursday midnight, at 1pm on Saturday if the repair work gets completed on time. Officials said more than 10,000 villages and 52 towns in nine districts of Odisha were affected as heavy rain pounded the coastal state through the day. Until evening, three persons were reported killed in Bhubaneswar and one each in Puri, Kendrapada and Nayagarh districts.



“Three persons who were killed in the city were brought to our hospital,” Ashok Patnaik, director, Capital Hospital, said. One of them, Pratap Nayak, died after the tin roof of his house collapsed on him. The other two were yet to be identified. In Puri, a teenage boy died when branches of a tree fell on him. A woman was killed in Nayagarh when a concrete structure collapsed. In Kendrapada district, an elderly woman died of heart attack at a relief shelter on Thursday night, when torrential rain started in the state. Special relief commissioner Bishunupada Sethi said: “We have not been able to confirm any death except that of the elderly woman in Kendrapada because of a breakdown in communication network.” He added that the cyclone uprooted numerous trees as it swept through Puri, Khurda and Ganjam districts. This led to disruption in movement of vehicles. “Personnel from Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force, fire and forest departments were engaged in clearing the roads. We hope most of the roads be cleared by tonight itself,” Sethi said. Most of the kutcha and old pucca houses were damaged in the three districts. Puri bore the brunt of the calamity. CM Naveen Patnaik took stock of the situation at the SRC office at Rajiv Bhawan. Chief secretary AP Padhi and many senior bureaucrats were stuck there from 9am to 4pm as the entrance was blocked by uprooted trees.

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