News Flash – 15 October 2019

National News



1,000 People Escape Blaze in Andheri Office Tower


Mumbai: Around 1,000 people made it out safely from a 22-storey commercial building in Andheri (west) after a major fire broke out during working hours on Monday. Most of those inside the smoke-filled Peninsula Park walked out to safety while about 65 were rescued by firemen. The narrow lane hindered the entry and movement of the fire brigade. A few people complained of suffocation and were taken to a nearby private hospital for medical treatment, said eyewitnesses. Fire officials said the fire-fighting system in the building was in working condition and aided their effort. The building houses offices, including production and dubbing houses. The fire was first noticed on the sixth floor and found spreading to other floors sometime after 12.30 pm. Many offices remained unaware about it till alerted by burning material falling from the glass facade on upper floors. “Fire was confined in electric duct from sixth to twelfth floor of the building. Firefighting system of building was in working conditions and used for firefighting. Hence, fire got extinguished within shortest time,” chief fire office P S Rahangdale said. Yash Dani was working on the seventh floor when someone in his office received a phone call about the fire. He opened the office door and witnessed the spreading fire and smoke on the upper and lower floors. He and around 15 people from his office rushed out of the building. “After coming out of the office, we saw that some people from another office on our floor had picked up the fire extinguisher and were trying to douse the fire.



We alerted others and climbed down the stairs despite the smoke. We came out safely along with others on our floor,” he said. Many on the upper floors were unable to climb down in the thick smoke and they instead moved to the terrace. Eyewitnesses said the people who received alerts about the fire immediately after it broke out managed to leave the building as the smoke had not yet spread and affected breathing or visibility. People who learnt late about the fire were unable to leave because of the smoke and had to be helped negotiate the staircase by the firemen. A fireman involved in the fighting the blaze said that while they were moving to the upper floor, many people from the top floors were still running down the stairs. The firemen reached the building terrace and found about over 60 people there. The firemen calmed them down and, after allowing the smoke to flow out through the ventilation in the lower floors, took the people to the ground floor through the staircase. The fire brigade also used the empty space at the back of the building to reach and save a couple of trapped people using a ladder. Sanil Kokate, who was in his office on the fifth floor of the building when the blaze started, said he was unaware about the fire for almost 30 minutes. “We saw from the window that burning material was falling and there was smoke in the air. We opened the door and the smoke was spreading on the lower floor. We alerted other offices on the floor and rushed out to safety,” he said.



Building Collapse after LPG Cylinder Blast Kills 13 in UP

The site of the building collapse following the cylinder blast in Mau district on Monday.



Varanasi: At least 13 persons were killed and 18 injured when two adjacent houses were blown apart in an LPG cylinder explosion in one of them at Validpur under Muhammadabad Gohana police station in UP’s Mau district on Monday morning. Police and fire brigade teams rushed to the spot and started rescue operations. The national and state disaster response teams were removing debris till late evening as one girl was suspected to be still trapped under the rubble. Eyewitnesses said the LPG cylinder in the house of Chhotu Vishwakarma started leaking around 6.30am and caught fire. Three women of the household suffered burns but managed to rush out. Hearing their cries and noticing the smoke, locals present at a nearby tea kiosk rushed to douse the fire, when the cylinder exploded. The massive explosion triggered the collapse of Vishwakarma’s two-storey house and the adjacent residence of Ram Balak Madhesia. The blast rocked Validpur and within minute’s locals collected and started removing the debris to rescue the trapped.



Police rushed to the site and alerted senior officials. Police and fire fighters took over the rescue operations with the assistance of locals. Mau DM Gyan Prakash Tripathi and SP Anurag Arya also arrived at the site to monitor rescue operations. A dog squad and the forensics team were summoned to collect evidence, Mau SP told TOI. “Among the 13 casualties, six died on the spot while others succumbed during treatment,” said Arya. Azamgarh divisional commissioner, Kanak Tripathi, and DIG Azamgarh range, Manoj Tiwari, also reached the spot. “Four persons died at Mau hospital while one succumbed at Azamgarh. Twelve bodies are in Mau mortuary and one is at Azamgarh,” said DIG Manoj Tiwari. The DIG has set up three separate teams to investigate the case. Chief minister Yogi Adityanath directed the DM, SP and other senior officers to provide relief and medical help to the injured.



25L Robbed from Gold Firm Manager at Bus Stand



Bengaluru: A six-member motorcycle-borne gang robbed an employee of Attica Gold Private Limited of Rs 25 lakh in east Bengaluru’s Ramamurthynagar on Sunday night. Santosh Kumar said he was waiting for a Vijayawada bus when the gang robbed him. Police suspect the involvement of an insider in the heist. “Santosh had collected the cash from his head office on Queens Road and was to take it to Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh. Accompanied by some security personnel, Santosh reached the bus stand in Ramamurthynagar in his office car. Keeping the cash bag on the back seat, he was standing outside the vehicle. Suddenly, miscreants donning full-face helmets arrived on motorbikes, attacked Kumar and sped with the cash bag,” police said. A case has been registered and probe is on.



Same Gang Carried out Jewellery, PNB Heists: Cops



Trichy: The Trichy rural police on Monday cracked the nine-month-old heist at the Punjab National Bank (PNB) branch at Bikshandarkovil by nabbing a welder who is a close relative of Ganeshan, who was nabbed on Saturday night in connection with the Lalithaa Jewellery heist. The cops also confirmed that Tiruvarur Murugan, now in Karnataka police custody and kingpin of the Lalithaa Jewellery heist, and another accused Suresh, were involved in the PNB heist too. However, they are yet to recover the valuables stolen from PNB. Special teams of the Trichy rural police that probed the PNB case arrested Radhakrishnan, 28, of Pudukkudi near Sengipatti in Thanjavur district, near Dindigul on Monday morning. About 470 sovereigns of gold ornaments and Rs.19 lakhs in cash kept in three lockers besides documents in two more lockers were stolen from the bank using gas cutters and by drilling two holes in its rear wall. The burglary came to light on January 28. “Radhakrishnan is one of the four accused in the burglary at PNB. The three accused arrested in Lalithaa Jewellery burglary case were also in the gang,” district superintendent of police Zia Ul Haq told reporters. S P Haq confirmed that Tiruvarur Murugan, his nephew P Suresh and C Ganesan, 35, of Vadipatti in Madurai, plotted the burglary at PNB branch with Radhakrishnan.



While Murugan is being interrogated by the Karnataka police in connection with several criminal cases, Suresh and Ganesan are lodged at central prison in Trichy. “Radhakrishnan is a professional welder and a close relative of Ganesan. The gang got him to cut open the lockers with gas welders,” said the SP, adding that the special teams probed more than 300 welders from southern and northern states of India before zeroing in on the accused. Radhakrishan had no other cases registered against him in Trichy and other districts and was not involved in Lalithaa Jewellery case either, the SP said. After staying with his wife in Dindigul, he absconded for a long time after the PNB burglary. Haq also said that Murugan and Ganesan played major roles in the heist at PNB. The gang chiseled a hole through the wall for two days and gained entry into the bank for cutting open the lockers. After succeeding in their attempt at PNB, the gang escaped to southern districts. They used a passenger van for their operations. Stating that the gang targeted PNB at Bikshandarkovil because of its location, the SP said except IOB in Uppiliyapuram which was in a remote area, the three other locations were close to busy areas of vehicle movement. “The sound of breaking the wall and cutting it open would drown in the sounds of vehicle movements in the area,” he said. Haq said police are insisting on enhancing security measures in high-value locations like jewellery shops, banks and pawn broker shops. Police had asked the PNB to shift its location from the rickety building to a strong one, he added.

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