Severe storm leaves 42 dead in UP, Rajasthan
AGRA/ALWAR/JAIPUR: A four-hour-long storm with very strong winds and heavy rain claimed 42 lives and left a trail of destruction in west Uttar Pradesh and east Rajasthan on Wednesday night. Most of the dead, which included many children, were victims of house collapses as the storm swept through UP’s Agra, Mathura and Firozabad districts before lashing Bharatpur and Dholpur in Rajasthan. “Most of the deaths were due to walls of houses coming down. At many places, the victims were asleep,” said a senior officer. At least 200 people were injured and around 600 electricity poles came down. Fourteen people died in Agra, while four each were killed in Mathura and Firozabad. Seven of them were kids. In Rajasthan, 14 people, including five children, were killed in Dholpur and six in Bharatpur district. In Mathura district, three siblings died after the tin roof of their one-room house collapsed in Jhuravi village. According to police, the victims’ parents, who work as daily wage labourers, were not at home when incident took place.
Due to snapped power lines at many places, large areas in UP remained in darkness. The rooftop of Agra’s UP dial 100 control room fell off in the storm, injuring one cop and damaging communication lines. Devendar Pal Singh, in-charge of UP dial 100, said, “The team is working to restore the communication channel so as to reconnect with our Lucknow headquarters. This was one of the worst storms in which several lives were lost and property worth several crores was destroyed”. The storm also affected movement of 25 trains passing via Agra and Mathura. Dozens of cattle were killed — at least 40 in Agra, including buffaloes and sheep, and over 50 in Firozabad. The administrations of the three districts in UP have assured the victims that they would to write to the state government and seek compensation. In Rajasthan, Dholpur district collector Shuchi Tyaagi announced an ex gratia of Rs 50,000 each to the families of the deceased.
Four killed after fire breaks out in Pitampura house in Delhi
NEW DELHI: Four persons were killed and two others got injured after a massive fire broke out on the first floor of a house in Kohat Enclave of north west Delhi‘s Pitampura during the early hours of Friday, police said here. Confirming the incident, fire department officials said that the information was received at around 2.15am, soon after which eight fire tenders were sent to the spot. The fire was brought under control after an hour and six people were rescued in the firefighting operation. Fire began from the first floor and swiftly spread onto the other three floors, cops said. During the cooling operations, fire fighters recovered four bodies from two floors. Police said that everybody was asleep when the blaze broke out and not everyone could find a way to escape. The emergency services were roped in and injured persons were taken to Ambedkar hospital. A 90-year-old woman is battling for life. Delhi police officers said that they’ve initiated an investigation into the case.
Drones to be used for pre-rain work on CR local route
MUMBAI: Central Railway (CR) will deploy drones to capture visuals of the Ghat section where landslides due to loose rocks can endanger safety of train operations during the rains. Last year, there were three incidents of landslide but none led to any casualty. On August 21, a boulder that came rolling down into a coach, tearing the roof but did not cause any fatalities. CR’s divisional railway manager SK Jain said, “We are going to deploy drone cameras to survey the Ghat section”. CR will invite tenders to hire the technology which is expected to cost between Rs 3,000 and Rs 4,000 per km. This is the first time that drones will be used for pre-monsoon work on the railways in Mumbai. An official said that drone cameras will also be used for inspection of pre-monsoon work. “We will have to seek permission from the police department for use of this technology in the CSMT-Kalyan section”. CR, whose network is more prone to water-logging, has already begun pre-monsoon preparation work. It has identified 67 spots which are prone to water-logging. The BMC, along with CR officials, carried out a joint inspection of these sites last week. Jain said, “We have requested the BMC for use of a pump with capacity to flush out 1,000 cubic meters of water from the tracks each hour at two locations, including Kurla, so that train operation do not get affected due to water-logging”.
Syria rebels say ‘chemical attack’ pushed them to quit Ghouta
Syria and its ally Russia have both denied the accusations, and the global chemical watchdog said it would deploy a team to investigate.
BEIRUT: A top Syrian rebel official told AFP today that his faction only agreed to abandon its battered enclave outside Damascus because of an alleged toxic gas attack. “Of course, the chemical attack is what pushed us to agree” to a withdrawal from Douma, said Yasser Dalwan, a high-ranking member of Jaish al-Islam. It was the first public acknowledgement by Jaish al-Islam of a deal reached for Douma, their last rebel holdout in the Eastern Ghouta suburb of Damascus. The agreement was announced on Sunday morning by Syria‘s government and its ally Russia, just hours after toxic gases were allegedly released on Douma. First responders there said more than 40 people died Saturday after suffering symptoms consistent with chemical exposure, including wheezing, discolored skin and foaming at the mouth. World powers have threatened a strong response, with French President Emmanuel Macron saying today he had “proof” Syria’s government was behind the attack. Syria and its ally Russia have both denied the accusations, and the global chemical watchdog said it would deploy a team to investigate. Analysts have said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may have used toxic gas to terrify Douma’s residents and push rebels to withdraw without a fight. Jaish al-Islam had long insisted that it would refuse to agree to an evacuation deal for Douma. But since the alleged attack, several thousand rebels and civilians have left Douma for opposition-held territory in the north. They included Jaish al-Islam’s chief Issam Buwaydani, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group. “Not all the leadership has left yet. Departures are ongoing,” Dalwan told AFP.
Greek fighter jet crashes in sea after patrol, pilot missing
ATHENS: Defence ministry officials in Greece say an air force fighter jet has crashed into the eastern Aegean Sea after returning from a patrol, and it is unclear whether the pilot survived. The officials told state-run television that the Mirage 2000-5 crashed Thursday north of the island of Skyros. They gave no information about the possible cause of the crash. Patrolling has intensified in recent weeks amid a spike in tensions between Greece and Turkey and near-daily mock dogfights in disputed airspace. Greek navy ships and army helicopters are searching for the missing pilot.
Taliban storm district in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province, killing more than 12 people
GHAZNI (Afghanistan): Taliban militants over-ran a district in Afghanistan‘s Ghazni province on Thursday, killing more than a dozen people including the district’s governor before retreating, a police official said. Ghazni’s Khawaja Omari district was considered one of the province’s safest areas. The militants killed district governor Ali Dost Shams, his bodyguards, seven police and five government intelligence agents, said Ramazan Ali Mohseni, deputy police chief in Ghazni. At least 45 to 50 militants were killed, he said. The Taliban then torched the district headquarters, he said. Later, the Taliban left the headquarters and government security forces returned. Bodies wrapped in blankets were laid on the ground of the district compound by late Thursday morning. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement 20 police officers were killed in the attack. Khawaja Omari is near the provincial capital, also called Ghazni, a city of 150,000 people 150 km (95 miles) southwest of the Afghan capital, Kabul. Fighting in Afghanistan traditionally increases in the spring when warmer weather melts snow blocking mountain passes, increasing the mobility of the insurgents. The Taliban usually announce the launch of a spring offensive in April.