News Flash – 10 February 2020

National News



7 Die in Textile Factory Fire in Gujarat, 6 Booked



Ahmedabad: At least seven persons died in a major fire, the worst that Ahmedabad has seen in 15 years, at a textile unit on Saturday evening. The bodies four recovered on Saturday and three on Sunday were sent to the VS Hospital for postmortem. It took 150 firemen 15 hours to douse the fire at Nandan Denim Ltd. a three-floor factory with a single entry and exit. Narol police on Sunday filed an FIR against six promoters and employees of the firm under IPC Section 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder). Those included in the FIR included Jyoti Chiripal, MD; Dipak Chiripal, CEO; P K Sharma, fulltime director; B C Patel, general manager of shirting division; H M Patel, deputy general manager; and Ravikant Sinha, fire safety officer. R B Rana, ACP J Division, said three accused — B C Patel, H M Patel and Ravikant Sinha, were apprehended in this connection. Police are yet to get forensic reports identifying origin of fire.



International News



China Workers to Get Back to Work Today as Virus Toll of 811 Tops SARS

People queue up for free masks outside a store in Hong Kong on Saturday amid reports of its shortage in the city-state.



Shanghai/Beijing: China raised the death toll from its coronavirus outbreak to 811 on Sunday, passing the number killed globally by the SARS epidemic, as authorities made plans for millions of people returning to work after an extended Lunar New Year break. Many of China’s usually teeming cities have almost become ghost towns during the past two weeks as Communist Party rulers ordered virtual lockdowns, cancelled flights, closed factories and shut schools. Even on Monday, a large number of workplaces and schools will remain closed and many white-collar employees will work from home. The scale of the potential hit to an economy that has been the engine of global growth in recent years has taken a toll on financial markets, as shares slumped and investors switched into safe-havens such as gold, bonds and the Japanese yen. China’s ambassador to Britain described the newly identified virus as “the enemy of mankind” in a BBC interview on Sunday, but added it “is controllable, is preventable, is curable”. “At this moment is very difficult to predict when we are going to have an inflection point,” Liu Xiaoming said. “We certainly hope it will come soon, but the isolation and quarantine measures have been very effective”. China’s cabinet said it would coordinate with transport authorities to ensure the smooth return to work of employees in key industries such as food and medicines. The state council’s special coronavirus group also said workers should return in “batches”, rather than all at once, in order to reduce infection risks. China’s National Health Commission recorded another 89 deaths on Saturday, pushing the total well above the 774 who died from SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in 2002/2003. Total confirmed coronavirus cases in China stood at 37,198, commission data showed. New infections recorded the first drop since February 1, falling back below 3,000 to 2,656 cases. Of those, 2,147 cases were in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak.



Joseph Eisenberg, professor of epidemiology at the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan, said it was too early to say whether the epidemic was peaking. “Even if reported cases might be peaking, we don’t know what is happening with unreported cases,” he said. The virus has also spread to at least 27 countries and territories, according to a Reuters count based on official reports, infecting more than 330 people. Two deaths have been reported outside mainland China — both of Chinese nationals. As millions of Chinese prepared to go back to work, the public dismay and mistrust of official numbers was evident on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter. “What’s even more frustrating is that these are only the ‘official’ data,” said one user. “We all know we can’t purchase masks anywhere, why are we still going back to work?” said a second. A group of Chinese academics, professionals and others have created digital petitions calling for freedom of speech amid a widespread outpouring of anger and grief online for Dr. Li Wenliang, who gave early warnings about the coronavirus in Wuhan, only to die of it last week himself. “Change, and only change, is the best commemoration of Dr. Li Wenliang,” said a petition that had been signed by 28 academics, lawyers and business figures by Sunday morning. The local government in the southern manufacturing hub of Shenzhen, meanwhile, denied a report in the Nikkei business daily that it had blocked a plan by Apple supplier Foxconn Technology Co to resume production in China from Monday. The company would restart once inspections were completed, it said. Meanwhile, the UK confirmed its fourth case of the virus and Spain reported its second Sunday. Both of the new cases were acquired during trips to France, officials said.



Thai Gunman Shot Dead After 18-Hour Siege Claims 29 Lives

Relatives of one of the 58 injured at a hospital in Nakhon Ratchasima. Jakraphanth Thomma went on a shooting spree at a military base and at a mall on Saturday apparently in rage over a long-standing land dispute.



Korat: The authorities killed the gunman near the cold storage refrigerators of the Foodland supermarket in the mall he Terrorised during Thailand’s deadliest mass shooting. It was just before 09.00am (07.30am IST) on Sunday 18 hours after he fired the first shots in a relentless spree that left at least 29 people dead and 58 injured in the city of Nakhon Ratchasima. Thailand’s PM Prayut Chan-o-cha said the rampage started with a real estate dispute. The gunman was bitter and lugging weapons stolen from a military base. It ended with hundreds of shoppers fleeing for their lives, their shoes slapping on the mall’s white tile floors as gunshots cracked, leading to a failed police raid, a follow-up and finally, the lifeless body of the 32-year-old gunman, dressed in military gear and surrounded by red plastic grocery bins. Authorities on Sunday identified the gunman as sergeant major Jakrapanth Thomma. Police authorities said they tried several times to persuade the shooter to turn himself in. Major General Jirapob Puridet, who led the security team, told CNN that they even brought the gunman’s mother in to talk to him.



The mother, who was not identified, told him there was little point in talking to her son, as he had depression and an extremely bad temper, CNN reported. In a nation where mass killings are rare, the shooting has prompted deeper questions about what happened, the government’s response and the underlying forces that led a man to kill so many who were so innocent. “My two kids are at home with their grandma now,” said Viparat Wansaboiy, who was watching a movie at the mall with her husband when the shooting broke out. “Luckily they didn’t come”. Thai officials initially said Thomma, simply “went mad”. Later, on Sunday, PM Chan-o-cha suggested that the gunman was enraged over a “land problem,” citing a dispute about selling a house. It was a conflict, he said, that had been simmering for days and could have been resolved without violence. Hours before he began shooting, Thomma had posted on his Facebook account denouncing greedy people. “Rich from cheating. Taking advantage of other people. Do they think they can spend the money in hell?” read one post. “Death is inevitable for everyone,” he wrote in another post.



Boeing Plane Crash-Lands on Belly in Russia, All Safe


Russia: A Boeing 737 airliner with 94 people on board made a hard landing in Russia on Sunday, carrier UT air said, but no one was badly hurt. It said the airliner, arriving at Usinsk airport, 1,500km from Moscow, made the hard landing because of wind shear a sudden change of wind velocity. The plane’s main landing gear was damaged in the landing but the crew managed to bring the aircraft to a halt on the runway, UT air said. All passengers and crew safely left the airliner.

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