News Flash – 14 February 2020

National News



Blaze in Andheri Building, Local Fire Dept. ill-Equipped for it

The blaze that broke out in an almost vacant Rolta Technology Park at MIDC.



Mumbai: A massive blaze broke out inside a ground-plus-four-storey commercial structure at MIDC in Andheri (east) on Thursday. Eyewitnesses said all offices in the building are empty, but for a bank on the ground floor. While no one was hurt in the incident at Rolta Technology Park structure, a resident of a building across the street complained of suffocation after inhaling the smoke and was taken to hospital. The fire, which started in a server room on the second floor, damaged the wiring, furniture, office records, computers, ACs, aluminium plates and other material. The fire department declared it a ‘Level 4’ blaze and deployed 13 fire engines and 100 personnel. Firemen evacuated all buildings in the complex and around as smoke spread in the area. The MIDC is the planning authority for the area and has its own system to fight minor blazes as it has merely two fire engines. It had not conducted any fire audit of commercial structures in its jurisdiction for four years. “We conduct fire audits only while giving occupation permission to buildings. Thereafter, we do not do routine fire audits. Since 2016, we have not checked any of the occupied buildings for fire compliance,” said Santosh Warick, deputy chief fire officer, MIDC. Fire officials said there were many violations. Also, the building’s firefighting system was not operational. The Mumbai fire brigade has suggested that the building’s water and power supply be disconnected. Its officials were upset as their chief fire officer, P S Rahangdale, led the firefighting operation but MIDC’s senior-most fire officer, who has an office in the vicinity, did not visit the site. Rahangdale said, “We noticed several violations in the building. We will ask MIDC to submit the building plan documents and examine the violations”.



Fire Breaks Out in Kandivli after LPG Leak, Nine Injured



Mumbai: Nine people, including a 10-year-old boy, were injured after leakage from an LPG cylinder sparked a fire at Kandivli East late Wednesday. The fire broke out at the residence of Sandeep Kanade while a neighbour was helping his mother replace an empty gas cylinder with a full one. Sandeep and his mother, Sharda, both suffered between 30-40% burns. Sandeep’s wife, Latika, and one-year-old son had a narrow escape. All the injured were rushed to a public hospital and four of them were discharged by Thursday. Sandeep is employed with a garments company and lives in a ground-plus one structure with his mother, wife, child, nephew and younger sister. Around 11 pm, Sharda asked a neighbour, Rajesh Dubla, to help her replace the gas cylinder. “Sandeep was on the steps when there was a loud sound and a foul odour. Latika grabbed their infant and dashed out of the door just as flames erupted. Sandeep’s sister, Sadhna, who is pregnant had a lucky escape too as she was at a neighbour’s house. “The entire room was charred and even the refrigerator melted,” said Latika’s brother. A group of residents sitting in the passage outside and chatting also suffered burns. “My grandson, Nitesh Panchal, 10, was cycling in the passage and I was walking a little behind him. He was too close to Sandeep’s house and his arms and legs were singed in the fire,” said Panchal’s grandmother. With 50% burns, Sandeep’s nephew, Omkar Chikke, 14, suffered the most. A class XII student of a suburban college, Chikke was to give his exams next week. His parents live in Konkan. Local residents chipped in and doused the flames.



1 of 3 Students Who Tested +VE for Corona in Kerala Discharged, 2 Others Stable: Min

SAFETY MEASURE: In this handout photo provided by Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), one of the Indians airlifted from coronavirus-hit Hubei province of China’s Wuhan gives sample to medics at the ITBP’s quarantine facility at Chhawla in New Delhi on Thursday.



New Delhi: One of the three medical students, who had tested positive for novel coronavirus infection and were treated at a hospital in Kerala, has been discharged after recovery, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan said on Thursday. About the other two, he said subsequent tests indicated significant reduction in “viral load”. “We are still waiting for confirmatory results before discharging them. They are stable and recovering and will be discharged soon,” Vardhan said. A high-level group of ministers (GoM), constituted on the directions of the Prime Minister, held its second meeting to review the current status and actions for prevention and management of the novel coronavirus, named COVID-19. At a press briefing, Vardhan said a total of 2,51,447 persons travelling on 2,315 flights have been screened so far. Besides, 15,991 people across the country have been kept on community surveillance. Of them, 497 have been identified as symptomatic cases and isolated while 41 have been hospitalised, Vardhan said. The minister said India had evacuated 645 people, including seven Maldivians, from China’s Wuhan city and quarantined them in two special camps. They will be kept under observation for a period of two weeks and discharged after they test negative for the virus. India has extended support to Maldives in testing samples and Bhutan in managing COVID-19. India has also agreed to support Afghanistan in testing samples. India is also extending help to China by sending essential items for combating COVID 2019 as per a commitment made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.



International News



As Toll Hits 1,367, Xi goes for Purge, Shields Himself

Passengers on a cruise ship that spent two weeks at sea after being turned away by five countries over coronavirus fears cheered as the vessel finally docked in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, on Thursday. Nobody has fallen ill aboard, but MS Westerdam carrying 1,455 passengers and 802 crew was turned away by Guam, Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand.



Beijing: The deadly coronavirus outbreak that has already killed 1,367 people in China is now claiming the jobs of top officials as President Xi Jinping moves to shield himself from public anger over the official response. China on Thursday replaced its top officials in the central province of Hubei and its capital, Wuhan, the epicenter of a viral outbreak that has infected more than 45,000 people worldwide. Former Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong succeeds Jiang Chaoliang as the ruling Communist Party’s chief in the beleaguered province, the Xinhua state news agency reported, while Wang Zhonglin will take over from Ma Guoqiang as the party secretary in Wuhan. State media also reported that a slew of others were expelled from the party for transgressions related to the epidemic. The purge of the top Communist Party chiefs in Hubei province, the epicenter of the crisis, and its capital Wuhan, the city bearing the brunt of the outbreak, came as the authorities announced the number of virus cases had skyrocketed by 14,840 to almost 60,000 following a dramatic revision to counting methods. Hubei had previously only allowed infections to be confirmed by RNA tests, which can take days. RNA, or ribonucleic acid, carries genetic information allowing identification of viruses. But it has also begun using computerised tomography (CT) scans, which give images of the lungs, the Hubei health commission said, to identify cases and isolate them faster.



Meanwhile, Japan confirmed its first coronavirus death a woman in her 80s living in Kanagawa prefecture near Tokyo adding to two previous fatalities in Hong Kong and the Philippines. Japan is one of the worst affected of more than two dozen other countries and territories that have seen hundreds of infections from the flu-like virus. The Japanese woman fell ill in January but only later showed symptoms of pneumonia and was hospitalised, with coronavirus confirmed after her death and the contagion route under investigation, the health minister said. The biggest cluster of infections outside China is on cruise liner Diamond Princess now quarantined off a Japanese port and a further 44 cases were reported on board on Thursday, raising the total to 219. But authorities said some elderly people would finally to be allowed to disembark on Friday. The WHO said the surge in deaths did not necessarily point to an acceleration in the spread of the outbreak but rather to a previous understatement. “Crucially we understand that most of these cases relate to a period going back over days and weeks and are retrospectively reported as cases, sometimes back to the beginning of the outbreak itself,” Mike Ryan, head of WHO’s health emergencies programme, said, adding, the only exception was on a cruise liner docked in Japan”.

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