News Flash – 13 March 2018

National News



Drunk driving: No woman fined in Delhi in 2017, one this year



NEW DELHI: Do women drink and drive? They don’t, if you go by Delhi Police statistics. In 2017, not a single woman was booked for driving under the influence. This year, only one has been hauled up for the offence. Women also figure as a negligible group in all other traffic offences but form a comparatively sizeable 10% of all accident fatalities. Delhi Police says the lower ratio of male drivers to female explains why the prosecution statistics are so biased towards males, with just one woman licence holder to every 71 men in the city. The total number of traffic fines issued in the capital in 2017 is also heavily skewed against men – of the 26 lakh challans, only 600 involved women. Garima Bhatnagar, joint commissioner (traffic), appeared to justify these figures by saying women were more careful when driving than men. Last year, police booked 1,67,867 drivers for jumping a traffic signal, of whom 44 were women. Only 514 women were among the 1,39,471 drivers caught for speeding. The traffic police study on accidents did indicate a trend of this sort with only 2% of drivers involved in accidents shown to be women. The study claimed that while speeding was the biggest killer on roads in Delhi, women were seen to generally drive within speed limits.


A traffic police officer said, “While analysing trends, we found women in general are more careful while taking turns or at intersections where the maximum number of accidents takes place. This sort of road behaviour not only means women figure very low in the number of violations, but is also an example for all drivers”. According to transport department figures, 11% of the total number of vehicles registered with the RTOs are owned or driven by females. Women might not be perpetrators of accidents, but the cops discovered that they were disproportionately bigger victims of accidents. According to the traffic police, 10% of the victims of fatal road accidents were women, while around 14% of those injured in accidents happened to be female. Police also said that the number of women falling victims to traffic mishaps has been increasing in the past two years. A major reason was because women often ride on two wheelers without helmets. Another reason according to senior officers is the women choosing to sitting one-sided on a two-wheeler while riding pillion. According to one study by the Union ministry of road transport, 97 women were killed in road accidents in Delhi in 2015-16, 44 of them pillion riders. Only five people were killed in an accident in which a woman driver was involved.



Fire at recycling unit off Bypass triggers panic


KOLKATA: A fire at a recycling unit in Mathpukur off EM Bypass on Sunday afternoon destroyed the unit and a few more polythene ware godowns nearby. While no one was injured, panic gripped the residents on the eastern fringes of the city. According to a source, the fire broke out at a recycling unit located near Dhapa around 2pm on Sunday. While the fire department is yet to find out the reason behind the fire, locals claimed that the unit had stacked several machineries which could have malfunctioned. Locals said that the unit was being used to recycle different categories of waste, including plastic wastes. Apart from this factory, there were other cottage industrial units that made products from recycled plastic, glass and metal foils.


At around 2 pm, locals heard a loud noise from an area near Dhapa dumping ground. After coming out, they saw thick columns of smoke billowing out of the shanties located near the dumping ground. Locals claimed that they heard sound of LPG cylinder burst and panicked. Many of the locals, living in huts near the recycling unit, took out cylinders stored inside their houses and fled the spot. Residents on the opposite side of EM Bypass rushed to the spot. The fire had spread fast as combustible materials were stored inside the unit spread over five acres, said an official. Ten fire tenders were pressed into the service and they took around two hours to control the flames.



Toll in Theni forest fire touches 10

Commandos carry an injured person to a base camp at Kurangani on Monday.



MADURAI/CHENNAI : The death toll from Sunday’s forest fire — which trapped an unsuspecting group of 36 trekkers in Kolukkumalai near Bodinayakanur in Tamil Nadu’s Theni district — climbed to 10 on Monday. The dead included six women; 16 trekkers were in hospitals in Madurai and neighbouring areas. Ten others returned home after receiving first aid. More than 250 personnel from the police and revenue departments and the Indian Air Force, which pressed helicopters into the mission from Sunday evening, rescued 23 people from the site. Several of the injured received first aid at Kurangai primary health centre before officials shifted them to secondary and tertiary care centres. Commandos carry an injured person to a base camp at Kurangani on Monday. Only three of the 39 expedition members — most of them young professionals — were not at the scene and escaped. As the scope of the tragedy widened on Monday, evidence emerged that the forest department didn’t react with adequate speed to Forest Survey of India (FSI) alerts of a “thermal anomaly” near where the blaze surrounded trekkers. Chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami on Sunday said the government would order a probe into the trip organised by Chennai Trekking Club (CTC), founded by Peter Van Geit, a software professional and outdoorsman from Belgium who has lived in the state capital for almost 20 years. On Monday, Palaniswami said the club undertook the expedition without forest department nod.


Forest areas are out of bounds for the public in summer when wild animals seeking water are a threat and forests are vulnerable to fires. Officials said the trekkers belonged to two groups and had gone on the trip through CTC and Tour De India Holidays Pvt Ltd, Erode. The first group comprised 27 CTC members; the 12 others went through Tour De India Holidays. The police registered a case under Section 174 of CrPC (suspicious death) against the owner of Tour De India Holidays Pvt Ltd, Erode. On Monday, an IAF team led by flight lieutenant Manohar of Sulur in Coimbatore, airlifted bodies from the scorched hillsides and sprayed firefighting chemicals from helicopters to douse the blaze. An unmanned aerial vehicle was deployed to look for survivors in the forest. Officials identified the dead as D Vipin, 30, of Unnamalaikadai in Kanyakumari, S Suba, 28, of Thittakudi (Cuddalore), T Hemalatha, 30, of New Vilangudi (Madurai), J Punitha, 26, of Chengalpattu, T Tamilselvan, 26, of Kavunthampadi (Erode), N Vivek, 26, of Kavunthampadi, K Akila, 27, of Kumbakonam, R Arun Prabakaran, 28, of Poonthamalli, M Divya of Valayapalayam (Erode) and T Nisha, 30, of Chennai. The blaze and the subsequent emergency caught the forest department napping.


FSI sent out initial alerts at 11.20am on Sunday after its remote sensing sensors detected a thermal anomaly near Bodi in Theni. In the next three hours, the Dehradun-based organisation sent two more alerts but the department ignored these too. It wasn’t until 4.30pm — five hours after the first alert — that the forest department finally reacted. Locals said the fire broke out at noon on Sunday. S Sekar, an estate worker in Kolukkumalai, was one among the first to reach the spot. He said minor fires broke out once or twice a year, but he had not seen a blaze as intensive as the one on Sunday in recent years. Chief minister Palaniswami said the rescue mission, on his orders, was carried out a war footing. The state urged defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman to use helicopters in the rescue, he said. Deputy chief minister O Panneerselvam and ministers Dindigul C Srinivasan and C Vijayabaskar supervised the rescue efforts. The government received a communication from Prime Minister Narendra Modi mourning the deaths in the forest fire and wishing those undergoing treatment a speedy recovery.



International News



Lucky to be alive: Nepal plane crash survivor

Basanta Bohora says he is lucky to be alive.



KATHMANDU: Basanta Bohora, a Nepalese and one of the few passengers to escape with injuries in the deadly plane crash here today said he is lucky to be alive. At least 50 people were killed when a Bangladeshi plane crashed and burst into flames while landing at Kathmandu airport. Officials said there were 71 people on board the US-Bangla Airlines plane coming from Dhaka. Bohora, an employee of Raswita International Travels and Tours, recalled that the take-off was normal from Dhaka but when the plane approached the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) for landing in Kathmandu, the aircraft began to behave strangely. “There were 16 Nepalese from various travel agencies onboard the airplane,” he was quoted as saying by Kathmandu Post. All the 16 had gone to Bangladesh for training, he said. “All of a sudden the plane shook violently and there was a loud bang afterwards,” he said. “I was seated near the window and was able to break out of the window,” he said. “I have received injuries to my head and legs but I am fortunate that I survived the ordeal,” he said. He is currently receiving treatment at Thapathali-based Norvic Hospital. “I have no recollection after I got out of the plane, someone took me to Sinamangal hospital and from there my friends brought me to Norvic,” he said.



Syrian Observatory says war has killed more than half a million



BEIRUT: The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based war monitor, said on Monday about 511,000 people had been killed in the Syrian war since it began seven years ago. The Observatory, which tracks death tolls using a network of contacts inside Syria, said it had identified more than 350,000 of those killed, and the remainder were cases where it knew deaths had occurred but did not know the victims’ names. The conflict began after mass protests on March 15 2011, dragging in regional and global powers and forcing millions of people – more than half the pre-war population – to flee their homes. About 85 percent of the dead were civilians killed by the forces of the Syrian government and its allies, the Observatory said. The Syrian military, joined by its ally Russia since 2015, has used air power extensively. As the war approaches its eighth year, intense fighting continues in several areas, including eastern Ghouta near the capital Damascus and Afrin near the Turkish border.

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