Odisha moves 3 lakhs to safety, braces for ‘very severe’ Titli
The rising sea level at Candolim beach in Goa. Tourists were asked to stay away at several beaches in Goa for a few hours on Wednesday after surging sea water hit the coastline during noon high tide.
Bhubaneswar: More than three lakh people were evacuated from the seaside villages on Wednesday as the state government moved to batten down the hatches before cyclone Titli hits the Odisha coast. Titli, which has now intensified into a very severe cyclonic storm, is expected to make landfall between Gopalpur in Odisha and Kalingapatnam in Andhra Pradesh between 5.30am and 11am on Thursday. The cyclone is expected to cause extremely heavy rainfall accompanied by wind blowing at a speed of up to 165 kilometres per hour in coastal Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. The state government has issued red alert for the 18 districts of Gajapati, Ganjam, Puri, Rayagada, Koraput, Kandhamal, Kalahandi, Boudh, Balangir, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Khurda, Nayagarh, Cuttack, Jajpur, Dhenkanal, Bhadrak and Balasore. Markets across the state witnessed heavy rush, with panic-stricken people stocking up on essential commodities as storm inched closer to the Odisha coast. Within hours of the Met office forecast of Titli hitting Odisha coast on Thursday, prices of essential commodities and grocery shot through the roof.
“The demand for candles, matchboxes, onions, potatoes, salt, sugar and other necessary items has increased. People are also buying noodles and biscuits,” Kartika Sahu, a grocer of Unit-IV market in the city, said. Special relief commissioner and managing director of Odisha State Disaster Management Authority, Bishnupada Sethi, said people living in low lying areas of Ganjam, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapada and Khurda districts, which are supposed to face the brunt of the storm, have been moved to safety. Odisha government has announced the closure of all educational institutes and anganwadi centres for two days and placed rescue personnel of National Disaster Response Force and Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force on standby. Five Indigo flights scheduled for Thursday from Bhubaneswar have been cancelled while several trains too have been cancelled.
Swiggy, Zomato in a soup, get notices for deliveries from unsafe Restaurants
Mumbai: Leading food aggregators, including Swiggy and Zomato, have been served show cause notices by the state Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for delivering food from unlicensed and unregistered restaurants, many of whom were caught preparing meals in extremely unhygienic conditions. Around 113 of such eateries have been asked to shut shop with immediate effect. Over 20 food inspectors of the FDA carried out checks at 347 restaurants between September 21 and October 1. ‘Stop business’ notices were given to 113 restaurants functioning without a licence and in contravention of sanitary requirements laid down under the Food Safety and Standard Act. Swiggy had tie-ups with 85 such eateries, Zomato with 50, Food Panda with three and Uber Eats with two. FDA commissioner Pallavi Darade said it was one of the biggest drives after the online ordering and delivering business came into vogue. “Aggregators are responsible for the quality of food till it’s delivered. They have to be mindful of the licensing conditions just like restaurants,” she said. She added that citizens too should be aware of the places they order from. “It will be a continuous campaign now,” she said. The FDA officials found that meals were cooked in filthy kitchens with bins kept close to raw materials. Also, the kitchens lacked ventilation, used clothes were hanging nearby and staffers worked without medical clearances.
FDA assistant commissioner (vigilance) Dilip Sawant said at least 59 of 113 eateries were pulled up purely for violating hygiene requirements, including Udta Punjab from Andheri east, Anda Apna Apna (Goregaon) and Foodies Home Delivery Guru in Chembur. He said the restaurants can reapply for licence after rectifying the violations. “There will be a re-inspection and if there is compliance, they will get a licence,” he said. In July, the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) issued a directive asking e-commerce sites to delist unlicensed and non-registered restaurants by September 30. TOI reported on Wednesday that 10,500 such restaurants from all over India have been delisted by the aggregators. A Swiggy spokesperson said, “As of October 1, all restaurants on Swiggy have FSSAI licences or acknowledgements. In the last two months, we have delisted hundreds of restaurants not compliant with regulations or which have poor ratings. We are also helping many restaurants procure licences”.
Gang disables cell, steals Rs.16 Lakhs with new SIM
Mumbai: A BKC-based automobile company lost nearly Rs16 lakh to phishing as a gang accessed its bank account and made fund transfers with the help of a new SIM card they procured for the firm’s mobile number linked to the account. While two gang members were arrested from Delhi and another from Mumbai, police are on the lookout for the kingpin who hacked into the company’s bank account. Since the bank account was illegally accessed, investigators suspect that some company official might have inadvertently responded to some phishing mail, leading to the account details being stolen. Else, someone from the company must have leaked the account details to the gang, sources say. The transactions were made on September 17 during the Ganesh Chaturthi holidays. When the office reopened that week, financial department officials found the mobile phone number dead. When they contacted the service provider, they were told that a new SIM was provided the earlier week following a request from the company.
“The service provider showed a mail they received from the company’s mail asking for a new SIM for their number,” a police officer said. It means OTPs for banking transactions were received by the gang as they had the new SIM; the company’s SIM had been deactivated to provide the new SIM. Subsequently, when the company officials checked the bank account online, they found Rs.15.6 lakhs had been transferred in three transactions to accounts in Mumbai and Delhi, and then approached the police. “Vikaskumar Shah (25) and Umar Ali (38) were nabbed from Delhi and Rajendra Verma from Mumbai based on the details of the bank accounts to which the money was transferred. The gang used Shah and Verma’s bank accounts to park their money by paying them a commission,” said an officer from BKC police station adding that Ali helped the kingpin to transfer the funds.
Bengaluru saw 4 H1N1 deaths in 44 days
Bengaluru: In the past 44 days, a pregnant woman and three others have died in Bengaluru due to Influenza A (H1N1) virus as per patient data with the state-run Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases (RGICD), Bengaluru. Three of these cases were reported in October. The health department is, however, cross-checking the test reports of the cases and is yet to declare the actual number of deaths. So far, 416 positive cases of H1N1 have been seen in the state. According to data at RGICD, the first death occurred on August 27, when a pregnant woman from east Bengaluru, referred from a private hospital, succumbed to the infection. It took the government 44 days to acknowledge the first death. Dr S Sajjan Shetty, joint director, National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme, said the reports arrived on Wednesday and he would look into the issue. “We have received a report on the deaths and are looking into it,” he said. “She was a 24-year-old woman, who was in her 24th week of pregnancy. The second incident was reported on October 1, when a 60-year-old woman died. On October 7, there were two more deaths, that of a 55-year-old man and a 37-year-old woman.
In all these cases, co-morbid conditions developed as the viral infection progressed. The cause of death is H1N1 infection itself,” said Dr C Nagaraj, director, RGICD. “As instructed by the government, we are sending data to the urban district health officer. Not sure how the same is not being updated in the state data,” he added. When urban district health officer Dr Sreenivas Golur called for a media briefing on October 6, he had said no deaths were seen in Bengaluru. While stating that every H1N1 case reported by the hospitals was sent to the officer concerned in the state health and family welfare department, Dr Golur declined to comment on the deaths not being reported. “Ask the officers in the department,” he said. Currently, RGICD has five suspected H1N1 cases and two positive cases. “We have one patient, a 60-year-old man, in the ICU. Besides, there is a 50-year-old woman, who is H1N1 positive and is being treated in the ward. Compared to the previous month, RGICD is seeing more cases now. “In September, we had 45 suspected cases out of which two were positive. In October, 39 patients have been screened, out of which six are positive,” said Dr Nagaraj.
5 killed as nine coaches of Farakka Express derail in UP
Harchandpur (Rae Bareli): Nine coaches and the engine of New Delhi-bound 14003 New Farakka Express derailed at Harchandpur railway station near Rae Bareli early on Wednesday, killing at least five people and injuring 39 others. Eyewitnesses said they heard a loud thud and then sparks flew from the screeching wheels of the coaches. “Everyone tumbled over each other and there was chaos everywhere. We rushed out and saw our coach was near the fields and the tracks all twisted, large concrete sleepers were thrown all around and the engine was stood on the ground, away from the track,” said a passenger Ranjan Kumar, a native of Munger. The train was on its way from Malda in Bengal to New Delhi. Railway officials said nine coaches next to the engine, including an SLR, two general coaches and sleeper coaches from S6 to S11 derailed near Harchandpur station at 6.10 am. While the SLR and the two general coaches along with three sleepers (S9 to S11) coaches were badly damaged, the other sleeper coaches were derailed. Rescue team had to cut the iron sheet of the coaches to bring out the injured passengers.
Cyclone Titli on course for landfall, but Met gives hope of a dry Puja
Kolkata: The city could be lashed by heavy rain on Thursday and Friday but cyclone Titli-induced showers are set to cease before the festivities begin. While rain could continue till Sunday, it will gradually weaken, paving the way for a clear sky from Monday, which happens to be Sasthi. The Met office has predicted ‘fair weather’ between October 16 and 19, dispelling fears of a wet Puja. On Wednesday, Kolkata received 13.9mm rain. Titli, which turned into a ‘severe cyclonic storm’ on Wednesday, approached the coast at a speed of 15km/hr and was headed for a landfall between Gopalpur in Odisha and Kalingapatnam in Andhra Pradesh on Thursday morning. “Kolkata will receive heavy showers on at least two days between Thursday and Saturday. Since the cyclone will be weakening after landfall, showers will lose intensity after that. On Sunday, Kolkata and South Bengal could remain cloudy with intermittent rain. But the weather should be clear from Monday and till now there is no possibility of rain during the Puja,” said Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC) director GK Das. He added that once a big system like a cyclonic storm moves away, the weather remains clear. “Unlike monsoon when you can have successive low pressures, chances of another system developing are remote now. A cyclone sucks out moisture from the atmosphere, reducing the chances of further rain,” explained Das.
According to an RMC bulletin, very heavy showers could lash the districts of South and North 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, East and West Midnapore, Murshidabad, Burdwan Nadia, Bankura and Purulia between Thursday and Saturday. Wind speed could reach 130-140km/hr over deep sea areas of west, central and adjoining north Bay of Bengal and gradually increase to 145km/hr on Thursday. In the coastal areas of Bengal, wind speed could touch 80km/hr early on Thursday when the cyclone is scheduled to hit land. On land, wind speed could rise to 60km/hr in the districts of East and West Midnapore, North and South 24 Parganas over the next two days. Kolkata is set to receive an intense spell of rain over the next 24 hours. It had been predicted that the city could start receiving showers from Wednesday evening but rain struck earlier. By 2pm, the skies turned grey and a steady drizzle followed. The rain ceased late in the afternoon. “We expect at least one very heavy spell by late on Thursday evening. More could follow over the next 48 hours,” said Das.
KMC engineer’s child, 2 others die of Dengue
Kolkata: Three persons in the city died of dengue on Wednesday, including the 10-year-old daughter of a Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) engineer. The girl died in a private hospital off the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass. A 13-year old girl from Belgharia died of dengue shock syndrome at a government hospital, while in the third case, a 66-yearold man from Behala died in another private hospital in Mukundapur. The KMC engineer’s daughter, Roopkatha Pulai, had tested positive for both NS-1 and IGM tests on Tuesday, which confirmed dengue. Sources in the KMC said that Pulai had been suffering from fever for the past five days and was taken to the hospital a couple of days ago. The girl was a Class-V student of Patha Bhawan School and a resident of Kamdahari Banerjeepara, close to Garia. The KMC health department, however, did not confirm that she died of dengue. “We have not received any conclusive proof as yet. Let us examine all documents related to the treatment before declaring it as a death due to dengue,” an official said. Local CPM councilor Chayan Bhattacharya felt that due to a delay in diagnosis, and the subsequent delay in beginning actual treatment, the girl did not survive. “The girl was taken to the hospital in a critical state. Though she was suffering from fever for the past five days, it was only on Monday that she was taken for a blood test when the situation went out of control.
She tested positive for dengue and succumbed to the dreaded disease within 24 hours of admission at the private hospital,” Bhattacharya said. He added that all preventive measures were being taken to ward off the dengue threat in the neighbourhood. In the second case, Asiana Parvin, 13, died at NRS Medical College and Hospital. The girl from Belgharia was initially being treated at the College of Medicine and Sagar Dutta Hospital in Kamarhati. She was shifted to a Kolkata hospital only on Tuesday and in a critical condition. The teen died of dengue shock syndrome on Wednesday morning. Another patient who tested positive for dengue, Sudhir Makal, 66, died in the evening at a private hospital. His death certificate mentions dengue shock syndrome and multi-organ failure among the reasons for death. The Jinjira Bazar resident was admitted to the hospital with fever on October 2. His blood samples later tested positive for dengue. According to family sources, his platelet count had started improving. His family alleged that medical negligence had led to his death and has lodged a complaint with the hospital authority. “How can a patient whose condition was improving along with the platelet count die? That is why we have lodged a complaint with the hospital,” said a relative. On Tuesday, 10-year- old Anish Sarkar had died of dengue in another private hospital. With the three deaths on Wednesday, the dengue toll in the city and its surroundings has gone up to at least 15 this year.
Civic Body, Police bet on Technology to make Chennai Safer for Women
Chennai: Don’t be surprised if by 2021 you get a message from Greater Chennai Corporation that warns you about crime-prone areas in the city, or gives you coordinates of emergency call boxes nearby. The corporation and Chennai police will implement such projects for a cost of Rs.425cr under the Nirbhaya fund to make the city safer for women. A sum of Rs.255cr has been sanctioned to the corporation which will coordinate with police, MTC and social welfare department to implement these projects by 2021. The Centre and the state will share the cost on a 60:40 bases. A major chunk of the fund will be used to create safe zone clusters. “Police officials have identified around 600 locations in the city where women could be vulnerable. Smart poles will be set up at these locations for Rs.90cr,” said a project coordinator in the corporation. “These poles will have an emergency call box with video calling. The boxes will be integrated with the command and control centre of the corporation (that will come up under the smart city project). The representative will be able to see the victim and send immediate help. Police and other line departments will be integrated with this,” he said. The unsafe locations include 56 railway stations, 19 bus stands and 19 temples. Out of 1,100-plus slum areas in the city, 377, where crime against women is higher, will have these smart poles and surveillance cameras. “The city will be safer with more CCTV cameras. Our aim is to ensure that women feel safe wherever they go,” said Chennai police commissioner A K Vishwanathan.
Police officers said crime against women in Chennai was less compared to other metros. Around 16,870 incidents in 2016 were reported compared to 45,797 in Bengaluru, 1,99,445 in New Delhi, 39,617 in Mumbai and 22,519 in Kolkata. However, plans are afoot to strengthen the women police force and 40 all-women police patrol vans will be bought. A victim compensation fund will be set up by the corporation for women suffering from trauma, grievous or no grievous injuries, loss of employment and violence. This will get a budgetary allocation every year as decided by the State Legal Services Authority. Besides this, sanitation facilities will be improved through 500 e-toilets. Public transport will get security enablers such as panic buttons and RFID tags. A passenger can easily dig out the history of a driver she is travelling with using an emergency app that will be provided by the corporation. Nearly 1 lakh taxis and autos will be geo-tagged and around 500 MTC buses will get CCTV cameras. Prasanna Gettu, managing trustee of International Foundation for Crime Prevention and Victim Care, said the government’s approach to prevent crime has more to do with technology-enabled solutions than a support system. “Investing in such infrastructure will give short-term relief. Sexual harassment in public spaces can be reduced using technology but studies have revealed that countries with all such infrastructure still have high rate of crime against women,” Prasanna said. “Technology cannot address underlying causes. We should strengthen the support services and invest in changing the attitude of the people. Women should be able to come out safely to report crimes,” said Prasanna.
Burglars rob Rs. 50,000 cash, Gold worth Rs. 10 Lakhs from shop
Chennai: Burglars on Wednesday robbed a grocery shop in Tiruvallur and escaped with 40 sovereigns of gold worth Rs. 10 lakhs, Rs. 50,000 cash and a few bags containing cereals and pulses. Police said Krishnakumar, 56, and his wife Jhansi Rani, 48, were residing in Deva Nagar. They ran a grocery shop at Teachers Colony. Since they opened the shop at 6am every day and spent most of the day there, they kept their jewellery in a cash box at the shop. On Wednesday morning, when they came to open the shop, they found the shutters broken open and valuables were missing. Based on information, police reached the spot and analysed CCTV camera footage in the locality. The footage showed a van that was parked outside the shop for a while. Police then questioned local residents who said they noticed the van and believed it was parked there to unload goods at night. Police lifted fingerprints from the scene and launched a hunt for the miscreants whom they suspect to be a gang.
How drones can save human bathers from Shark attacks
Australia: Can technology protect you from the jaws of a one-ton great white shark? Several Australian tech startups say yes. They’re using artificial intelligence, drones and electric force fields to try and prevent sharks from eating human bathers. This summer, sharks have attacked teenagers on beaches from California to New York. Sharks have typically frequented lower latitudes, but warming oceans are pushing their prey north, says Florida Atlantic University professor Stephen Kajiura. “We are very aware of how close to shore great whites are now hunting,” says Cynthia Wigren, chief executive officer of the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy. Last year, 16-year-old New South Wales high school student Samuel Aubin designed a smartphone app called Shark-Mate that uses AI to analyse 13 environmental factors that affect shark behaviour, including time of day, proximity to a river and recent rain. These are combined with other data, such as the number of lifeguards on duty, to calculate the odds of being attacked.
In January, the Ripper Group, which operates search and rescue drones in Australia, launched Shark Spotter, a computer programme that scans the ocean for sharks from air. The AI algorithm detects the animals based on their movement, speed, colour and swimming patterns. When it spots a shark, the drone sends an alert to lifeguards and can drop inflatable devices to swimmers in immediate danger. Shark Mate and Shark Spotter try to influence human actions; Ocean Guardian’s Shark Shield attempts to change the animal’s behaviour. The electric transmitting device emits a three-dimensional force field that causes unbearable spasms in a shark’s sensory systems, prompting the animal to turn away from its prey. Several leading shark researchers back the three technologies and predict that a combination of drones and AI will obviate the need for the shark nets that have cordoned off swimming beaches to the detriment of marine life for almost a century.