News Flash – 15 March 2018

National News



Fire breaks out in residential cum shopping plaza in Kasa, one dead


MUMBAI: One person died in the fire that broke out in a commercial cum residential three storey building in Kasa taluka of Palghar district early Wednesday. Six residents staying on the second floor of the Vishi and Virani Traders building were rescued. Aziz Virani (46) who was caught in the fire when the grains and cooking oil stocked in the godown went up in flames died of burn injuries. He is believed to have been sleeping in the godown when the fire took place at around 4.15 am. Three fire tenders from Dahanu and Boisar were pressed into service. The fire has been brought under control. Short circuit is believed to have led to the fire.



Increase in malaria, dengue cases in Hyderabad



Hyderabad: Cases of malaria and dengue have shown an increase recently in Hyderabad causing an alarming situation. The diseases have affected many people with the number of patients with high fever is increasing in the hospital. Speaking to ANI, Government Fever Hospital Dr K Shankar said that in past two months the patients suffering from malaria and dengue have increased. “Due to variation in temperature, there has been increase in the number of mosquitoes. Eventually, a number of cases of malaria and dengue are being witnessed in government and private hospitals,” Shankar said.



Tirunelveli and Tuticorin districts of Tamil Nadu receive heavy rain, holiday declared for schools

The catchment areas of all the three falls in Courtallam received heavy rain.



TIRUNELVELI: Heavy rain triggered by a low pressure area over the India Ocean lashed Tirunelveli and Tuticorin districts of Tamil Nadu on Tuesday night and in the early hours of Wednesday. The collectors declared a holiday for schools in these districts on Wednesday. However, Class XI board exams would be conducted as usual. The collectors asked the staff on examination duty to be available as usual. Manonmaniam Sundaranar University declared one-day holiday for colleges affiliated to it in Tirunelveli, Tuticorin and Kanyakumari districts. However, the internal exams and semester practical exams for undergraduate and postgraduate students would be held as usual. University sources said the message had been passed on to the affiliated colleges. There is no holiday for schools in Kanyakumari district. The district recorded an average rainfall of 18.2mm. Several trains, including Chennai-Tuticorin Pearl City Express, were delayed due to rain.


The catchment areas of all the three falls in Courtallam received heavy rain. Bathing was banned in Courtallam Old Falls, Main Falls and Five Falls. Water from the Old Falls flooded the car parking area and flowed through the roads, making it impossible for tourists to reach the falls. Tuticorin city recorded the highest rainfall of 200mm, followed by 190mm in Papanasam in Tirunelveli district during the 24 hours till 8am on Wednesday. Tirunelveli district recorded an average rainfall of 62.19mm. Tuticorin district recorded an average rainfall of 55.83mm in the 24 hours. The rain resulted in marginal improvement in the water level in the reservoirs in the region. Water level in Papanasam reservoir rose by four feet to 32 feet in a day.



Papers to be unsealed under CCTV surveillance: GSHSEB



AHMEDABAD: Hours after a question paper of Science and Technology of class X allegedly went viral from Dahod, the Gujarat board swung into action and issued two circulars on Wednesday directing that the packets of question papers should be opened before CCTV camera by the centre coordinator and each and every classroom of all the examination centres will be checked thoroughly around an hour prior to the exams. The circular said that seals of all the question paper packets will be opened in front of CCTV cameras so that the procedure of paper distribution can be captured on camera. Besides this, the district team of examination squad will monitor the CCTV footage of opening and distributing the question papers to ensure no irregularity was conducted during the exam. The classroom observer of each examination centre will have to remain present when the seals of question papers are opened.


If any school is found to have disobeyed the circular and if opening of question paper seal is not captured on camera, then actions will be initiated against the concerned centre coordinator. The circular also directed that there are different classrooms lying vacant in various examination centres in which irregularities can be conducted. So all rooms of each examination centre which mainly include staff-rooms, libraries and laboratories will be thoroughly checked to ensure no unauthorized person or exam-related literature is inside those empty spaces. The circular has been issued after the alleged incident of paper leak in Dahod district, said a board official. At present, the class X and class XII exams are being conducted in 5,483 and 60,337 blocks. Exams in Dahod, Mahisagar and Panchmahal districts have been under scanner since last year when a question paper was leaked. It was widely circulated on social media and after registering an offence a series of arrests including those of persons involved in the exam process were made.



International News



7 killed in blast near Sharif’s residence in Pakistan



LAHORE: A powerful blast tonight near the residence of Pakistan’s ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif here killed at least seven persons, including three policemen. The blast took place close to a police check post, a few kilometers from the palatial residence of the Sharif family and close to the congregation of the Tableeghi Jamaat. “Seven persons have been killed in the blast. Some seven policemen among the 20 or so suffered injuries. The condition of four policemen is stated to be critical,” Rescue 1122 spokesman Jam Sajjad told PTI. He said the Rescue ambulances are shifting the injured to the Sharif medical complex and other nearby hospitals. Deputy Inspector General Police Lahore Dr Haider Ashraf told reporters that three policemen were among the dead. “The condition of some policemen is critical,” he said. “It is not confirmed yet whether it was a suicide blast or planted device,” he said, adding “police personnel” were the target of the blast. It was such a powerful blast that its sound was heard several kilometers from the site. A fire ball was seen after the blast at the Nisar Police Check Post. No militant group has claimed the responsibility of the blast so far. Pakistan Rangers quick response force has reached the spot and cordoned off the area.



Britain expels 23 Russian diplomats over chemical attack on ex-spy



LONDON: Britain is to kick out 23 Russian diplomats, the biggest such expulsion since the Cold War, signaling a plunge in relations to their lowest point in decades in the wake of a chemical attack on a former Russian spy in southern England. Prime Minister Theresa May pointed the finger of blame firmly at Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday as she outlined a series of retaliatory measures in parliament. Russia denies any involvement in the attack on ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, who have been critical in hospital since they were found unconscious on March 4 on a bench in the southern English city of Salisbury. May announced measures including the potential freezing of Russian state assets that pose a security threat, new laws to counter hostile state activity and a downgrading of Britain’s attendance at the soccer World Cup in Russia. She had given Moscow until midnight on Tuesday night to explain how the Novichok nerve agent came to be deployed on the streets of Salisbury, saying either the Russian state was responsible or it had lost control of a stock of the substance. “Their response demonstrated complete disdain for the gravity of these events,” May said in a statement to parliament. “They have treated the use of a military-grade nerve agent in Europe with sarcasm, contempt and defiance”. May said the only possible conclusion was that the Russian state was culpable for the attempted murder of the Skripals and the harm to Nick Bailey, a police officer who is in a serious condition after being exposed to the nerve agent. “This represents an unlawful use of force by the Russian state against the United Kingdom,” she said. The Russian embassy in London described the steps announced by May as “unacceptable, unjustified and shortsighted”. Moscow has repeatedly warned London to expect retaliation.


MAY DENOUNCES PUTIN: The two governments blamed each other for the crisis. “Many of us looked at a post-Soviet Russia with hope. We wanted a better relationship and it is tragic that President Putin has chosen to act in this way,” said May. Britain, which has received statements of support from the United States, the European Union and NATO, has said it would seek to coordinate an international response to the attack. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after May’s statement that she took the British findings on Salisbury seriously and there would be a common European stance, although “we must still talk responsibly” with Russia despite differences of opinion. A French government spokesman said Paris was awaiting proof before deciding if it would act in solidarity with London. May said the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has been notified of Britain’s findings and would verify its analysis of the substance used in the attack. Skripal betrayed dozens of Russian agents to Britain before being arrested in Moscow and later jailed in 2006. He was freed under a spy swap deal in 2010 and took refuge in Britain. The attack on him was likened in Britain to the killing of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, a critic of Putin, who died in London in 2006 after drinking green tea laced with radioactive polonium 210. Russia refused to extradite the two Russians identified by Britain as the killers.


Britain’s response to the Litvinenko affair, which included the expulsion of four Russian diplomats, was widely criticised domestically as too weak, and many in British politics and media have called for a much tougher response to the Skripal attack. May said the 23 diplomats, identified as undeclared intelligence officers, had one week to leave and this would damage Russian intelligence capabilities in Britain for years. It was the biggest single expulsion of Russian envoys from Britain since 1985 when 31 diplomats from the former Soviet Union were told to leave. May also said Britain would revoke an invitation to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to visit the country and suspend all planned high level bilateral contacts between London and Moscow. The Foreign Ministry in Moscow said Lavrov had not accepted the invitation to visit Britain anyway. On the soccer World Cup, May said no ministers or members of the British royal family would attend.


“CORRUPT ELITES”: But unlike when the United States and European Union imposed sanctions on Russia in response to its annexation of Crimea and other actions in Ukraine, May did not name Russian individuals or companies that would be specifically targeted by sanctions. “We will freeze Russian state assets wherever we have the evidence that they may be used to threaten the life or property of UK nationals or residents,” she said, giving no further details. She said new laws would be urgently developed to counter any threat from a hostile state, including a power to detain those suspected of hostile state activity at the UK border. She also said there would be an increase in checks on private flights, customs and freight to better track those travelling to Britain who could represent a security threat. She also threatened action against those she described as “serious criminals and corrupt elites,” adding: “There is no place for these people, or their money, in our country”. London has been a venue of choice for many rich Russian to buy property and has sometimes been nicknamed “Londongrad”. This has long frustrated anti-graft campaigners, who want Britain to act more robustly against money laundering in London. Russian gas giant Gazprom will cut hundreds of jobs at its overseas trading and export offices, including Britain where it has its largest such office by far, and move them to St Petersburg, as part of a drive by Putin to repatriate capital to reduce exposure to sanctions, according to two sources familiar with the plan who spoke exclusively to Reuters. In a separate development, British media regulator Ofcom said it could strip Russia Today, a Kremlin-funded TV channel, of its UK licence. Russia said British media would be expelled in retaliation should that happen.

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