News Flash – 10 August 2018

National News



Lepto claims 2 young lives in Goregaon



Mumbai: Leptospirosis claimed the lives of two young Goregaon (West) residents in the past 10 days, as hospitals have reported a spurt in cases from the area. The bacterial disease has already claimed nine lives in the months of June and July. Among the deceased were a 19-year-old girl from Shastri Nagar and a 27-year-old man from Motilal Nagar. Both died of multiple-organ failure after developing severe lung injury at S R V Hospital. The 19-year-old, who had a history of wading through water, was brought to the hospital after being treated in another smaller medical centre for two days. The girl allegedly was suspected to be suffering from dengue and not leptospirosis. “By the time she came to us, she had full blown acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)—a lung injury that can be fatal. We put her on the ventilator, but she went into multi-organ failure. She succumbed on July 30,” said Dr Abhay Vispute, intensivist and chairman of S R V.


The second death occurred on August 4. The 27-year-old deceased had walked into the hospital’s outpatient department with high grade fever and breathlessness and was advised hospitalization. The man said he used to reside close to some cattle shed and would walk past it daily. “He came to us on the third day of developing the symptoms. He too developed ARDS, which leads to acute kidney injury and doesn’t allow antibiotics to work optimally. Hence, it’s important that people seek medical care without wasting time,” said Dr Vispute. He added they treated at least seven cases in the past fortnight, of which three were critical but have come out with aggressive treatment. At the BMC-run Siddharth Hospital, too, cases are being reported. A doctor said, “We have treated a few cases from Goregaon, Kandivli and Malad. Some have needed aggressive antibiotic management.” A BMC official said there has been a spurt in cases following the heavy rain of July’s last week. “Cases are coming from all parts of the city”.



Violent Maratha bandh blocks E-way, targets industrial units


Pune: The state-wide bandh called by the Maratha Kranti Morcha (MKM) on Thursday witnessed another round of violence in Pune, Nashik and Marathwada. Protesters blocked the Mumbai-Pune Expressway and other highways, damaged buses and private cars, went on the rampage in the Waluj industrial belt in Aurangabad, and laid siege to the Pune collectorate for more than nine hours. As the violence spread, internet access was cut off in many parts of the state. MSRTC did not deploy a single bus from its 19,000-strong fleet. Waluj, home to 3,000 industrial units, saw the worst violence with hundreds of protesters torching vehicles, ransacking at least 60 companies and damaging property worth crores. They assaulted security guards, employees and even senior executives. A police vehicle, a private truck and a fire tender were set ablaze. The protesters also attacked the convoy of Aurangabad commissioner of police Chiranjeev P. Industrialists from Waluj reacted strongly, warning the government they would shift out of Aurangabad if they were not given protection.



Refinery fire put out after 11 hours



Mumbai: The fire that started on Wednesday after an explosion at the hydrocracker plant of Bharat Petroleum’s Mahul refinery was extinguished in the early hours of Thursday after raging for over 11 hours. A total of 43 persons were reported injured, of whom 22 had to be hospitalised. Nine have now been discharged. BPCL has said it will form a high-level committee to investigate the cause of the explosion and fire, which started around 2.45pm on Wednesday and was put out at 1.50am the next day. The committee will also ascertain the extent of damage and losses. “No product (high speed diesel) shortage is envisaged on account of the fire,” reiterated a BPCL spokesperson, S S Sundararajan. “It is clear that none of the neighbouring plants in the refinery has been affected. All were functional on Thursday”. In a statement, BPCL said, “The condition of the injured is being closely monitored by our refinery medical centre”. Medical director Dr SK Goswami said 13 BPCL staffers continue to be hospitalised as of Thursday. “All are stable. Two who suffered fractures have undergone surgery. The one person who suffered a head injury is being treated conservatively”.


The relatives of Sushil Bhosle (35), one of the two patients declared serious on Wednesday, said they were relieved when he recognised them a day later. The chemical engineer, with over four years’ work experience with BPCL, suffered head and facial injury, which caused severe blood loss. “We were worried as he had a head injury. But he could recognise his father and wife, which doctors told us is a good sign,” said his brother-in-law, Amit Jadhav. Nanadip Walwe (53), the second person who was seriously injured, was operated for fractures. He and his colleague, Philip Kurien (51), were about 100 metres away in a neighbouring plant when the explosion occurred. The impact blew the roof of their plant, which crashed on them. While Kurien escaped with a shoulder fracture, a large chunk fell on Walwe’s face and shoulders. Sources said that though the cause of fire is yet to be ascertained, leakage of gas from the hydrocracker plant cannot be ruled out. Sources said investigators will have to find out if there was a ‘vapour cloud ignition’—the vapour cloud being a mixture of hydrogen and hydrogen sulphide gases. “The gas was burning and at high pressure, which was later regulated”.



Guess SWAT 36 women from NE to form city’s terror shield


New Delhi: Delhi will be the first police force in the country to have an all-women SWAT team. Home minister Rajnath Singh will formally induct the unit in Delhi Police on Friday. Trained by specialists from India and abroad, 36 women constables from northeastern states have been inducted into the squad after rigorous, 15-month training. It is the brainchild of police commissioner Amulya Patnaik. “These women are second to none when it comes to handling terror strikes and hostage crises in urban areas. In fact, they were rated better than their male counterparts by their trainers at Police Training College in Jharoda Kalan,” Patnaik said. The formation of this team is being considered a big achievement as most western countries do not have all-women SWAT teams due to the kind of training required to become one. The maximum numbers of members (13) are from Assam and five each from Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Manipur. They are trained in the Israeli Krav Maga, an unarmed combat style, and equipped with MP5 submachine guns and Glock 21 pistols. These commandos will be stationed at strategic locations in central and south Delhi. Amids intel inputs of women Fedayeen’s planning to target the capital, this all-women unit would helm the security apparatus around Red Fort and India Gate as well. Many of them would be posted in anti-terror vans called Parakram.


The women are trained to handle challenges unique to the capital—like climbing multi-storey buildings or carrying out hostage rescue operations at hotels, buses or metro. The idea of an all-women SWAT team germinated when 41 newly-inducted policewomen had completed a four-month commando training. To minimise the problem of language, an instructor from the northeast has also been included in the training team. “They have undergone a rigorous training of 15 months as against 12 months for general duty male constables. They further honed their skills at NSG Centre, Manesar. They are experts at unarmed combat, ambush and counter ambush, jungle operation, urban operation which includes building interventions, vehicle/bus intervention and VVIP security. They have also been imparted basic knowledge of explosives and IEDs apart from being trained to use a wide array of weapons,” DCP (Special Cell) Pramod Kushwaha said. “Experts at abseiling and scaling, they can spring from deep sleep to action, fully armed, within a minute of an alarm. Not only have they mixed well with personnel from other parts of the country, there is an amazing mix of cultures on display at the academy at present,” said a trainer.



Alert in Kerala as landslips, flashfloods leave 23 dead


Idukki/Thiruvananthapuram: Twenty-three people were killed in flashfloods and landslides caused by incessant torrential rain across Kerala in the past 24 hours. Four people are missing. Responding to the Kerala government’s request, the Army and Air Force joined rescue operations in Idukki and Wayanad. A defence spokesperson said more forces are on standby at Pangode, Kannur and Sullur airbases for assistance. The shutters of 24 dams were opened. With the water level at Idukki reservoir, Asia’s highest arch dam, rapidly rising to the danger mark of 2,403 feet, the government on Thursday opened one of the five shutters of the connected Cheruthoni dam by 50cm. With just one shutter partially open, 50,000 litres of water were discharged in one second, indicating the kind of impact the opening of all five shutters would have on heavily populated towns, villages and cities downstream. Idukki, parts of northern Kerala and Palakkad district bore the brunt of the floods, and landslides were reported from eight places in Wayanad, Malappuram and Idukki. Kuttanad, which lies below sea level and is known as the rice bowl of Kerala, was inundated after the shutters of the Kakki dam in Pathanamthitta district were opened. With Pamba river in space, the water level in the scenic Alappuzha-Kottayam backwaters too has risen.



As many as 11 deaths were reported from Idukki district, six from Malappuram, three in Ernakulam, two in Kozhikode and one from Wayanad. Four persons are reported missing from different parts of the state. The government has opened round-the-clock control rooms in all districts. The ‘1077’ hotline is active in all flood-affected districts. A seven-member central delegation headed by AV Dharma Reddy, joint secretary of the home ministry, is in the state to assess the extent of damage caused by floods. Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan and revenue minister E Chandrasekharan held discussions with the delegation and sought more time to prepare a detailed estimate of the damage. Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke with Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday in the wake of heavy rains and floods in the state, and offered all possible assistance to those affected. “Spoke to Kerala CM Shri Pinarayi Vijayan and discussed the situation arising due to floods in various parts of the state. Offered all possible assistance to those affected,” the PM said in a tweet.



Cauvery swells as Kabini, KRS outflow up; alert along banks


Mysuru/ Mandya: For the first time after its inauguration in 1974, 71,100 cusecs of water were released from the Kabini dam on Thursday, following heavy rainfall in the Wayanad region of Kerala. The water release led to heavy inflow into the Cauvery since Wednesday night. “On Thursday morning, inflow into the dam was 41,692 cusecs, while outflow was 44,054 cusecs. But by evening, inflow reached 58,450 cusecs and outflow was 71,100 cusecs,” water resources department officials said. Until now, the record release of water from Kabini was 68,300 cusecs in 2009. Following heavy rainfall in Kodagu and surrounding areas, inflow into the KRS dam also increased. Inflow was 23,942 cusecs, while outflow was 41,301 cusecs. “This outflow includes water released into various canals,” the authorities said. According to locals, following heavy outflow from Kabini, several roads connecting Suttur, Nanjangud and other areas are submerged. Revenue department authorities have issued a warning to residents against venturing near the river. Mysuru and Mandya district administrations are on high alert, following the release of water, and have warned people against moving close to the swollen rivers, Mandya police said. With more than 20,000 cusecs of water likely to be released from Krishnaraja Sagar dam any time, the Cauvery Neeravari Nigam Limited (CNNL) has sounded an alert, warning people living downstream.


Inflow to KRS was as low as 4,000 cusecs in the past couple of days, but rose to 13,000 cusecs on Thursday when the water level stood at 124.25ft against the maximum of 124.80ft. The inflow could increase to 50,000 cusecs as there is good rainfall in Cauvery catchment area. “Since the reservoir is filled to the brim, we have to release entire inflow into the river. We have already informed the district administration to take necessary steps as there could be flooding along the river course. As a precautionary measure, we should let more water into the river as we need to keep the water level below the Full Reservoir Level,” said a senior CNNL officer. Meanwhile, farmer leaders are unhappy with the state government as the irrigation department is not taking steps to fill waterbodies, including village tanks. “If the waterbodies are filled, it would help in recharging underground water, and water scarcity in summer could be staved off,” said Shridhar, a farmer from Kommerahalli village. Chief minister H D Kumaraswamy will plant paddy saplings in Mandya on Saturday to mark good rainfall this year.



Monsoon hits train, bus travel on Shiradi route

IN THE DEEP: Rescue personnel shift people to a safer place out of Bantwal, which was flooded after heavy bouts of rain.



Mangaluru: After a lull of more than 10 days, an invigorated monsoon wreaked havoc on road and rail transport from this coastal city to Bengaluru. Heavy rain lashing Shiradi Ghat region since late Wednesday resulted in the newly opened stretch of Shiradi Ghat getting waterlogged, posing problems to vehicular traffic. Landslips at multiple places, with boulders falling on the track, resulted in disruption of train services. Due to incessant rain in the Ghat section in the past couple of days, landslides were reported at multiple places, resulting in regulation/cancellation of passenger train services from August 8. Even as restoration work was under way, fresh landslips occurred. The railways arranged buses for 446 stranded passengers to reach their respective destinations. The passengers were also refunded the full fare. The train from Kannur/ Karwar bound for KSR Bengaluru was also cancelled, and 397 passengers on board were provided alternative transport facility by routing KSRTC buses through Hassan railway station, besides a full refund. In addition, railways hired 10 buses to transport the remaining passengers. On Thursday, the Mangaluru-bound express from Yesvantpur did not start, and neither did its pairing train from Karwar. The railways arranged catering services which included snacks and water for all stranded passengers, and refunded their fare, amounting to Rs.74,720. Additional ticket checking staff assisted stranded passengers with announcements at stations on arrangements being made, S G Yatish, senior divisional commercial manager and PRO, South Western Railway, said.


Train 16511/16513 KSR Bengaluru City-Kannur/Karwar via Kunigal-Shravanabelagola and Hassan with scheduled departure from KSR Bengaluru City at 7.15pm on Thursday, was rescheduled to leave at 11:15pm. Due to delay in restoration of track and landslides on tracks in Donigal-Kadagaravalli and Shiribagilu-Yedakumari of Sakleshpur-Subrahmanya Road Ghat section, train 16518/16524 Kannur/Karwar-Mangaluru Central-KSR Bengaluru triweekly express was cancelled on Thursday. Heavy rain also resulted in vehicular traffic along Shiradi Ghat getting affected for nearly six hours from 5am on Thursday. SP B R Ravikanthegowda told TOI that there was heavy waterlogging along the Ghat stretch between Sakleshpur in Hassan and Gundya in Dakshina Kannada, following which vehicle movement was temporarily suspended. “Vehicle movement was restored post 11.15am, when the water receded,” he said. The swelling Nethravati river in Bantwal forced the authorities to shift people residing along the banks to safer places. Fire and emergency services personnel pressed lifeboats into service to shift families affected by the rising water. A person fishing on the banks of the Nethravati at Innoli, drowned on Thursday. Harish Naik, 30, was a native of Gundya. A bridge at Hosamutt near Kukke Subrahmanya Temple was reportedly submerged by the rising water level of the Kumaradhara river. Mundaje in Belthangady taluk recorded maximum rainfall of 253mm rain in Karnataka in the past 24 hours up to 8.30am on August 9, according to Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre.



Banks install anti-skimming device, 40% ATM’s secured


Kolkata: All leading banks in the city have started installing anti-skimming devices in their teller machines to stop incidents of ATM tampering using skimming devices. The move was prompted by a spate of ATM frauds reported from several parts of the city. Banks have assured customers who are cagey about using ATMs in the Puja shopping season that the installation of anti-skimming devices will be completed in most of the 11,500-odd ATMs in the state before the Pujas. Some banks like HDFC and United Bank of India (UBI) are hoping to finish installing the devices even earlier. The RBI had directed the banks to enhance cyber security, including the installation of anti-skimming devices in ATMs. The deadline for completing the installations is March 2019. According to an estimate, over 40% of ATMs in the state already have the anti-skimming device installed. The chief general manager of SBI, Partha Pratim Sengupta, has said that the anti-skimming device has already been installed in a substantial number of SBI’s 3,500-odd teller machines. “Unlike many other ATMs, most of our ATMs have security guards, so chances of breaking in or skimming are less,” Sengupta added.


Bank officials feel anti-skimming devices were a possible antidote to the type of ATM frauds reported late last week. The fraudsters in these cases used a skimmer — a device set in the machines where customers swipe the cards to withdraw money. The skimmer captures data from the magnetic strip on the card, which is used to clone them. An HDFC Bank official said almost 90% of its ATMs in Bengal are now equipped with the anti-skimming device. “As far as Kolkata is concerned, almost all of our 120 ATMs are now equipped with the technology,” the official said. The UBI has installed the anti-skimming device in nearly 50% of its ATMs. A UBI official pointed out that banking frauds using skimmers have become rampant all over the country. “It is a very common fraud now. We have seen that an anti-skimming device can protect ATMs from such things. The device has to be installed inside the machine,” the official added. According to a banking IT expert, the latest ATMs being installed have an inbuilt anti-skimming system. “As the device has to be inserted into the machine, logistics are very important. This is why RBI has proposed the March deadline, giving the banks some time,” he added.



Flood alert sounded for Cauvery



Chennai: The central water commission (CWC) on Thursday issued its first warning to Tamil Nadu government that due to heavy rain in Karnataka and Kerala, there was a likelihood of heavy release of water from Kabini dam and Krishnarajasagar dam into river Cauvery. The combined discharge of more than one lakh cusecs (cubic feet per second) is expected to reach Mettur dam in Salem district within two days. “Already, about 40,000 cusecs is flowing into Tamil Nadu at Biligundulu, the interstate border, near Hogenakkal as on Thursday evening,” a CWC official said. The huge inflow will help Mettur dam reach its full capacity of 120ft in a couple of days for the second time this year. On Thursday evening, the water level stood at 117.50ft. Inflow into the dam is 8,311 cusecs and the outflow is maintained at 19,341 cusecs for irrigation in delta districts. After giving a miss to its customary opening date of June 12 due to poor storage, chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami opened sluices of Mettur on July 19. In his first advisory on river Cauvery, CWC southern rivers division executive engineer R Saravanan said, “Suitable precautionary measures may be taken, and downstream areas be informed of the release”. The alert has been sent to TN chief secretary Girija Vaidyanathan and the district collectors of Krishnagiri, Dharmapuri, Salem, Erode, Trichy and Thanjavur.


In a separate advisory for Karnataka reservoirs, CWC said there was a likelihood of high inflow into Hemavathy, Harangi, Kabini and Krishnarajasagar reservoirs of Karnataka in the next 36 hours due to heavy rain in Kerala and Malnad region of Karnataka. The dam authorities should release water as per the standard protocol. Revenue administration, disaster management and mitigation, commissioner, K Satyagopal, said, “We are watching the situation closely. Necessary directions have been issued to inter-departmental zonal teams about vulnerable areas”. Salem collector Rohini R Bhajibhakare has instructed people living along the river banks to move to safer places. The district disaster management team has been told to stay vigilant. A team of officials from revenue, PWD, police and forest departments has been deployed to monitor the situation. Dharmapuri district administration has banned coracle services at Hogenakkal. Tourists are not being allowed to take bath in the falls.



Kerala witnessing unforeseen calamity: Pinarayi

WATER WORLD: People being evacuated in Palakkad on Thursday.



Thiruvananthapuram: With 24 dams being opened in Kerala and landslides being reported, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the state was witnessing an unforeseen natural calamity. This is for the first time in the history of the state that these many dams have been opened at the same time. The chief minister, who called a high-level meeting to review the flood situation on Thursday morning, gave necessary direction to open the shutters of Cheruthoni dam. After the meeting, the chief minister said the state had sought the help of defence forces for rescue and relief operations. The government has given alerts to the Idukki, Kannur, Wayanad, Kozhikode, Palakkad and Malappuram district collectors where landslides and floods have severely affected people. A state monitoring cell headed by additional chief secretary (revenue) P H Kurien has been constituted which will be reviewing the situation directly with the district collectors. The Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the National Disaster Response Team and the Coast Guard are helping the state authorities in rescue and relief operations. The help of Air Force has been sought to rescue the people who have been isolated following the landslides.


The chief minister said the opening of Kakki dam will flood the Kuttanadu region and hence the state is going to witness a huge damage here. A decision has also been taken to postpone the Nehru Trophy boat race in view of the flood situation. The new date will be announced later. He said 20 deaths were reported from the state on Wednesday night following heavy rain and landslides. In Idukki, 11deaths have been reported, six from Malappuram, two from Kozhikode and one from Wayanad. He urged the people to support the relief team and stay away from dangerous areas. He also advised tourists to stay away from the flooded regions of the state. “The state has taken all precautionary measures to face the situation and the government needs the support of the people to carry out the relief and rescue operations,’’ said the chief minister.



International News





Yemen: At least 50 people were killed, including 29 children, during an air strike by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen’s Saada province on Thursday, the rebel-run health ministry said. The coalition is fighting the Iranian-aligned Houthi group in Yemen. ‘A hospital supported by our team in Yemen received the bodies of 29 children under the age of 15,’ the International Committee of the Red Cross posted on Twitter. Meanwhile, the Saudi-led coalition said it targeted the Houthis who had fired a missile at the kingdom’s south on Wednesday. A spokesman accused the Houthis of recruiting children and using them in the battlefields to cover for their actions.



Aftershocks rock quake-hit Lombok, toll 319



Mataram: The death toll from a devastating earthquake on the Indonesian island of Lombok jumped to 319 on Thursday, as strong aftershocks triggered panic among traumatised survivors waiting for aid in the worst-hit regions. The shallow 6.9-magnitude quake on Sunday levelled tens of thousands of homes, mosques and businesses across Lombok, with relief agencies only just starting to reach survivors in some of the worst-hit areas four days later. “Our latest update is that 319 people died,” said Indonesia’s Chief Security Minister Wiranto adding that rescue efforts were ongoing and complicated by aftershocks. Around 1,400 people were seriously injured and more than 1,50,000 displaced, authorities said earlier.

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