News Flash – 14 September 2017

National News



Police to issue safety norms for schools in a week: Top cop



MUMBAI: In a week’s time, city police will come up with guidelines for schools to ensure that there is no repeat of the Gurgaon Ryan International School tragedy in Mumbai. In the wake of the national outrage over a seven-year-old’s murder in the school’s washroom in Gurgaon, police commissioner D D Padsalgikar said on Wednesday that cops will soon issue safety guidelines for city schools. “We have already started a drive called ‘Police Didi’ where women constables visit schools within their respective jurisdiction and sensitise kids on sexual harassment. The exercise has been a success and due to this awareness, several such crimes have been prevented. Now, we will issue guidelines to schools on similar lines,” said Padsalgikar and added that these norms will be discussed with parent-teacher associations. Police said the guidelines require schools to install CCTVs inside their premises. Also, cops will conduct background checks of their staff, especially bus conductors, peons, drivers and even some male teachers, to ensure that they don’t have any criminal antecedents. Schools will also have to hire guards to monitor any unauthorized entry into their premises. The guidelines already mandate the presence of a woman attendant in a school bus till the last child is dropped. City police is also considering a plan to ask schools to follow a “buddy system” where two schoolchildren visit the washroom together. “The other alternative is to deploy guards outside washrooms,” said an official.



Security officer shot in Azadpur mandi after row



NEW DELHI: A Security Officer at Azadpur Mandiwas shot early on Wednesday while controlling movement of trucks at the wholesale market. Local traders claimed that Sumer Singh (52), who was working with Agricultural Products Market Committee (APMC), was shot on the head from behind following an argument with some truckers over theft of goods from their vehicles. Some traders also told cops that Singh had an argument with some drivers over parking of trucks near the gate a few minutes before the incident. Singh had threatened to stop the errant drivers from entering the market if they did not comply with the norms, said traders. The possibility of Singh being attacked for trying to stop a group of thieves has also not been ruled out. Sources said that around 6am, the assistant security officer saw some men, coming from the Azadpur station side, going towards the shed where fruits were being packed. Confronted, they failed to explain why they were there and one of them suddenly pulled out a pistol and shot Singh.



As other members of APMC tried to catch them, the accused managed to climb over a wall and fled. Singh was taken to Babu Jagjivan Ram Hospital where he died during treatment. A murder case has been registered. “We are probing all angles. His belongings and mobile phone are being scanned,” said Milind Dumbere, DCP, northwest. The empty cartridge of the bullet has been recovered from the spot. Singh, a wrestling champion from Nangloi, was employed in 1984 in the sports quota. He is survived by a 25-year-old son and a 22-year-old daughter who is pursuing BDS, said Manoj Kumar, APMC secretary. Members of the market committee staged a protest later in the day, alleging lax security measures. They alleged the market didn’t have enough CCTV cameras and many of them were often out of order.



Security Guard murders mother-in-law, aide arrested

Raju Yadav in police custody



MUMBAI: A 22-year-old man was arrested for teaming up with a security guard for killing the latter’s mother-in-law in a shed near Borivali railway station recently. The prime accused, Salim Langda, 35, is on the run. Salim allegedly thrashed his mother-in-law, Sitabai, to death as she wanted her daughter, Pinky, to separate from him. Sitabai used to live with the couple and provide for the household by begging. “We found a severely decomposed body in a temporary shed, constructed by a railway contractor for storing materials, near Borivali station on Sunday. After going through CCTV footage, we found that nobody had entered or left the room after September 7. Salim guarded the materials and lived in the shed. He had gone missing,” said deputy commissioner Purushottam Karade. The shed was locked from outside. The CCTV grabs also showed another man entering and leaving the shed a few days before the crime. On the basis of his description, the police searched for him and picked him up from Borivali. He was identified as Raju Yadav. “Raju admitted that he had helped Salim in killing Sitabai in the shed on September 7.



He had held Sitabai’s legs while Salim assaulted her with a wooden stick. Later, Salim gagged her with a saree and strangled her. The duo escaped, leaving the body in the shed,” said Karad. Sitabai had sent her daughter away a day before the killing, which infuriated Salim. “Salim couldn’t stick with one job for long. He used to drink and beat up her wife Pinky. Sitabai did not like this. For six months, she kept the couple away from each other. Only 10 days ago, the mother-daughter duo had returned to Mumbai,” said a GRP official. Salim and Pinky were married for two years but arguments happened very often in the household. Pinky too hasn’t been spotted since her mother’s murder and the police are trying to track down her location. Yadav has been remanded to police custody till September 16 by a magistrate court. “One of Salim’s friends had blurted out to a cabbie that Salim had murdered his mother-in-law. But as he was drunk, the cabbie paid no heed to him. Had the cabbie informed us, the murder would have come to light sooner,” said the official.



Coach of Rajdhani Express derails in Delhi



NEW DELHI: A coach of Jammu Tawi-New Delhi Rajdhani Express derailed on Thursday at the New Delhi Railway station in the national capital, but no one was injured in the incident, a Northern Railway spokesperson said. The incident took place around 6.00 am when the train was entering the platform, the spokesperson said. Nobody was injured in the incident, the official said. The incident is the latest in a series of rail accidents in this month. On September 7, seven coaches of Jabalpur-bound Shaktipunj Express jumped the rails near the Obra Dam station in Sonbhadra district in Uttar Pradesh at around 6:25 am while the engine and power car of the Ranchi-Delhi Rajdhani Express derailed near Minto Bridge in Delhi, injuring a person. Two wagons of a goods train derailed in Khandala in Maharashtra on the same day.



No warnings: Thunderstorm wakes up Mumbai in early hours

The thunder and lightning lasted three hours from 2.30 am



MUMBAI: The city woke up in the early hours of Wednesday to a torrential downpour which lasted three hours amid thunder, lightning and gusty winds. It was an unexpected night of heavy rain as the India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) Mumbai cell had forecast a “thunderstorm accompanied with gusty wind and lightning at isolated places over Konkan” but no specific warnings were issued about severe conditions in the city. Hence, as a BMC official admitted, protocols were not activated to counter the impact of heavy rain. “Konkan is a large area (for weather forecasts, Mumbai is considered part of north Konkan) and while warnings for thunder were issued it did not exactly say ‘Mumbai region’. We cannot activate SOPs in such conditions when there are no warnings for Mumbai specifically as it could unnecessarily create a panic situation,” said a senior BMC officer. Tuesday night’s downpour accompanied by thunder and lightning lasted three hours from 2.30am to 5.30am. The Santacruz observatory recorded 95mm in this period, which would be described as extremely heavy rain but short of a cloudburst. The total for six hours from 2.30am-8.30am was 103.2mm. Many residents said they woke up to claps of thunder and the din of the rain. Wind speed at 2.30am was about 43km per hour, double the usual speed. Marine Drive resident Mahendra Hemdev said, “Lightning was continuous and the wind kept blowing.



Thankfully it happened in the night or else it would have created a panic situation,” he said. Many took to social media asking Mumbaikars to stay safe and calling the weather ‘insane’ and ‘scary’. Data for the 24-hour period from 8.30am to 8.30am between September 12 and 13 recorded by IMD shows more rainfall was recorded in the suburbs than the city. The IMD Colaba observatory’s reading showed 58.6mm while the Santacruz observatory recorded 103.2 mm, which qualifies as ‘heavy rain’. K S Hosalikar, deputy director-general (western region), IMD said rain started after midnight and poured through the night. “It was at its peak till 4am weather warnings are in place for thundershowers for Wednesday night too,” he said, adding that a low pressure zone over Kerala and neighborhood areas has moved over interior parts of Konkan and resulted in such thundershowers. Weathermen said a confluence of winds added to it. “The winds were exactly opposite each other and confluence of the westerlies and the easterlies led to such activity. The humidity levels were also very high along with the temperatures which had caused heating,” said scientist Shubhagi Bhute from IMD Mumbai.



Dengue-like viral fever on the rise in Bengaluru

The viral fever imitates symptoms of dengue. It can only be diagnosed through a careful blood test.



BENGALURU: This year, city hospitals have been witnessing a steep rise in cases of a dengue-like viral fever, especially among children. Doctors have exhorted parents to be more vigilant. Viral fever strains have mutated over time making it difficult for doctors to treat them. There are viruses that are benign but can trigger macrophage activation syndrome, which is a typical feature of the dengue virus. Across the city, there has been a spurt in the number of such patients with such fever and, in some cases, a rapid drop in platelet count has been noticed. Dr. Shalini Joshi, consultant, internal medicine, Fortis Hospital, said, “This is not the first time that people are being diagnosed with viral fever that imitates the symptoms of dengue. This fever can only be diagnosed through a careful blood test. I won’t say that it is a new strain but, over the years, the number of such cases has gone up as it is very different from the influenza virus that generally attacks the upper respiratory system”. The virus attack is quite common among children and even government hospitals like the Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health and Vanivilas Hospital are witnessing a rise in the number of such cases. Most blood testing centres in the city are overloaded with blood samples as, to start the first line of treatment, the doctors need a proper blood report to distinguish the viral fever from dengue.



Raghu BS, a pediatrician with the state government, said, “This viral attack is a cause of worry especially during the dengue season. Regular blood tests are needed in some cases because, once the patient acquires the viral fever, the immunity is lowered and they are left exposed to other kind of diseases, especially in this season. Children are most vulnerable and hence parents should be more careful with diet and encourage them to drink ample amount of water”. Another cause of concern for the doctors in the city is the rise in cases of scrub typhus, a bacterial infestation which can be fatal. The disease has been on the rise for the last two months and triggers fever in both children and adults while displaying dengue-like symptoms. The disease is caused due to bacteria known as Oriental tsutsugamushi that lives primarily in mites. The infection is called scrub typhus because it generally occurs after exposure to areas with secondary (scrub) vegetation. According to Bangalore Medical College and Research Institute reports, many blood samples which have been received from different parts of the state have tested positive for scrub typhus. Humans are infected accidentally, usually during rainy season through mite bites.



US firm to prepare masterplan for Kolkata airport



KOLKATA/WASHINGTON: Cincinnati-based global aviation planning and development firm Landrum & Brown (L&B) will prepare a 20-year master plan to increase the capacity and efficiency of Kolkata airport. L&B will also prepare the blueprint for Lucknow airport. L&B has been associated with some of the top airports in the world, including Gatwick, Suvarnabhumi, Melbourne, Incheon, Abu Dhabi, Seattle and Dubai. In India, it has offered consultancy to Indira Gandhi International Airport and Rajiv Gandhi International Airport. According to officials, the master plan prepared for Kolkata and Lucknow will incorporate sustainable and environment-friendly ways to accommodate the anticipated increase in demand at two of the fastest growing airports in AAI’s network. L&B chief executive officer Mark A Perryman said his company was looking forward to the opportunity to assist AAI in developing its long-term modernization plans for Kolkata and Lucknow airports and bringing the best in class and technologies to solve complex issues at these vital transportation hubs.



As the world’s ninth largest aviation market, India’s civil aviation sector is on a high-growth trajectory, poised to be the third largest national market by 2020 and, potentially, the largest by 2030. This project will advance India’s priorities of expanding capacity at two of the busiest airports in the country. “We are pleased to support this important project that will support India’s rapid aviation growth, while connecting US businesses with new export opportunities,” said Thomas R Hardy, acting director of US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) that has signed a memorandum of understanding with AAI. Under the US-India aviation cooperation programme, USTDA has supported a number of similar activities aimed at helping India’s growing aviation market.



Intolerance and fake news not just media’s concern, it’s a global problem



CHENNAI: The murder of senior journalist Gauri Lankesh last week suggests that intolerant forces are on the rise, but it is government’s responsibility to ensure the freedom of speech, noted David Callaway, chief executive officer, The Street Inc., a US-based financial news website. Callaway, the former editor-in-chief of American daily USA Today, was in the city to attend the 25th annual World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) conference. “It is not India alone. Russia, Mexico and Turkey, where 150 journalists have been jailed without any charges, have witnessed an attack on press freedom. In the USA, President Trump’s comments against the media have led to a situation where reporters are harassed by his supporters,” Callaway said at the conference. On the other end of the spectrum, the emergence of fake news is an area of concern, not just among journalists. Thomas Jacob, chief operating officer of WAN-IFRA said fake news contributed to the reader’s increasing disillusionment with mainstream media. “If getting a reader’s attention represented currency for news media earlier, today gaining the reader’s trust has become the primary objective,” Jacob said.



Conceding with the scenario, Michael Schmidt, South African investigative journalist, said the mainstream media was guilty of losing track of its audience’s requirements. The focus today has shifted to social media with tech giants like Facebook and Google driving digital content and providing a platform for proliferation of fake news. “At the height of the US presidential race, fake news content on Facebook generated 87 lakh (reader) engagements, while mainstream media content generated only 73 lakh engagements,” Jacob said. According to the 2017 Digital News Report by Reuters, a survey of 70,000 respondents revealed that prevalence of fake news has resulted in a substantial drop in trust factor. Only 40% people trusted mainstream media’s ability to separate fact from fiction while only 24% thought the same about social media’s ability.



International News



25 people, mostly students, killed in Malaysia school fire

Police and fire department work at the religious school Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah after a fire broke out in Kuala Lumpur.



KUALA LUMPUR: 25 people, most of them students, were killed when a fire tore through a religious school in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, an official said. The blaze broke out in the religious school, Tahfiz Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah, located in a mainly Malay settlement of Datuk Keramat just before dawn. “The number of confirmed dead are 23 students and two wardens,” Khirudin Drahman, director of Kuala Lumpur’s fire and rescue department told AFP. “They could have died due to smoke inhalation or got trapped in the fire. I think it is one of the country’s worst fire disaster in the past 20 years. We are now investigating the cause of the fire,” Drahman said. A fire department official at the scene said that the blaze broke out in bedrooms before dawn, and firefighters from a nearby station were on the scene within minutes.



5 die at nursing home as death toll in Irma’s wake mounts


HOLLYWOOD: Five patients at a sweltering Hollywood nursing home died in Hurricane Irma’s aftermath as people confronted a multitude of new hazards in the storm’s wake, including oppressive heat, brush-clearing accidents and poisonous fumes from generators. Hollywood Police Chief Tom Sanchez said investigators believe the five deaths at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills were heat-related, and added: “The building has been sealed off and we are conducting a criminal investigation.” He gave no details. A total of 115 patients were evacuated from the nursing home, which lost power in the storm and had no air conditioning. Sanchez did not answer questions regarding whether a generator was running inside the place. Also in the Miami area, a Coral Gables apartment building was evacuated after authorities determined a lack of power made it unsafe for elderly tenants, while officers arrived at the huge Century Village retirement community in Pembroke Pines to help people on upper floors without access to working elevators. More than half the community of 15,000 residents lacked power. In addition, at least five people died and more than a dozen were treated for breathing carbon monoxide fumes from generators in the Orlando, Miami and Daytona Beach areas. Aside from the nursing home deaths, at least 13 people in Florida were killed in Irma-related circumstances, many of them well after the storm had passed. A Tampa man died after the chain saw he was using to remove branches kicked back and cut his carotid artery. Elsewhere, Irma has been blamed for four deaths in South Carolina and two in Georgia. At least 37 people were killed in the Caribbean.



In the battered Florida Keys, meanwhile, county officials pushed back against a preliminary estimate from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that 25 percent of all homes in the Keys were destroyed and nearly all the rest were heavily damaged. “Things look real damaged from the air, but when you clear the trees and all the debris, it’s not much damage to the houses,” said Monroe County Commissioner Heather Carruthers. The Keys felt Irma’s full fury when the hurricane roared in on Sunday with 130 mph (209 kph) winds. President Donald Trump’s homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, said the federal government is working to help Florida Keys residents secure shelter through rental assistance, hotels or pre-manufactured housing. Trump plans to visit Florida on Thursday. For many of Irma’s victims, the days ahead are likely to be soggy, sweaty, dark and discouraging. One of the biggest worries is the fate of Florida’s many senior citizens. The longtime retirement destination has the highest proportion of people 65 and older of any state _ 1 in 5 of its 20 million residents. On Tuesday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he had received a lot of calls from nursing homes and assisted living facilities having problems with generators. “We’re doing everything we can to help them get either generators, fuel, power back on. It’s one of the things we’re doing aggressively,” Scott said. At the Hollywood nursing home, Jean Lindor, a kitchen worker, said through a Haitian Creole translator that the air conditioner had not been working since the storm and it had been hot inside. Paulburn Bogle, a member of the housekeeping staff, said the place had been hot but manageable the past few days. The staff used fants, put cold towels and ice on the patients and gave them cold drinks, he said.



Broward County Medical Examiner Dr. Craig Mallak said his office had received the bodies of two of the victims _ women ages 71 and 78 _ for autopsies. “They were sick already. It’s going to be tough to tell how much was the heat and how much of it was they were sick already,” Mallak said. At the Coral Gables building that was evacuated, five firefighters went up the dark emergency stairwell, strapped Ofelia Carrillo _ a frail 97-year-old woman who is immobile and has heart problems _ to a special evacuation chair and carried her down. “This is the most stressful situation I’ve lived in my life,” said her daughter Madeleine Alvarez said. The number of people without electricity in the steamy late-summer heat dropped to 9.5 million _ just under half of Florida’s population. Utility officials warned it could take 10 days or more for power to be fully restored. About 110,000 people remained in shelters across the state. While nearly all of Florida was engulfed by the massive storm, the Keys _ home to about 70,000 people _ appeared to be the hardest hit. Drinking water and power were cut off, all three of the islands’ hospitals were closed, and gasoline was extremely limited. Search-and-rescue teams made their way into the more distant reaches of the Keys, and an aircraft carrier was positioned off Key West to help. Officials said it was not known how many people ignored evacuation orders and stayed behind in the Keys. Crews also worked to repair two washed-out, 300-foot (90-meter) sections of U.S. 1, the sole highway that runs through the Keys, and check the safety of the 42 bridges linking the islands. The Lower Keys were still off-limits, with a roadblock in place where the highway was washed out. On the mainland, one of the evacuees taken from an apartment building that lacked power near Miami was a 97-year-old woman who is immobile and has heart problems.



Thousands evacuated after bomb threats in Moscow

People stand near the evacuated Kievskaya railway station in Moscow.



MOSCOW: More than 15,000 people were evacuated from several shopping centres, universities and train stations in Moscow after a series of bomb threats, Russian media reported. A source in the emergency services told state-run TASS news agency that over 30 prominent locations including the famed GUM shopping centre on Red Square were temporarily emptied after anonymous telephone threats. Interfax news agency cited a source as saying that over 15,000 people around the sprawling city were evacuated. Neither the emergency services in Moscow nor the police could immediately confirm the incidents to AFP. A representative for GUM told AFP that employees had been allowed back inside the building. The spate of threats came after two days of similar calls caused disruptions in cities across Russia, with the state-run RIA Novosti news service reporting some 45,000 people were evacuated nationwide. No bombs were found at any of the locations. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov today said the country’s intelligence services were investigating the threats.

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