News Flash – 15 September 2018

National News



Thieves target festival shoppers, steal 28 cellphones in Kalyan



Kalyan: Thieves had a field day a day ahead of the Ganesh festival on Wednesday, targeting shoppers at the crowded flower stalls in the APMC market at Kalyan and stealing the cellphones of 28 devotees. Bazarpeth police in Kalyan have registered two separate FIRs. In an attempt to prevent such incidents in future, cops in civvies will maintain vigil in the market till the festival ends. The police said all 28 mobile phones were stolen between 7 am and 8 pm when people from Kalyan and surrounding areas like Dombivli, Ulhasnagar, Titwala and Murbad had come to buy flowers at APMC, the biggest flower market in the region. Talking to TOI, Arjun Mahatre, a complainant, said, “When I came out of the market after buying flowers, I realized my cellphone was missing from my pocket”. Similarly, Ramesh Ambare, a resident of Netivali area in Kalyan (East), has stated in his complaint that even before he bought the flowers, his cellphone had been swiped. Ulhasnagar-based businessman Manohar Bhatia’s motorcycle was also stolen. In his complaint, Bhatia, 68, alleged when he came outside the market premises after buying flowers, his motorcycle had disappeared. D B Kamble, assistant commissioner of police, Kalyan region said, “We have deployed cops in civil dress and we have started making continuous announcements in the market urging shoppers to safeguard their valuables”. A special team has been formed to nab the culprits.



17 killed, 16 hurt as bus falls into gorge in Jammu



Jammu: At least 17 passengers were killed and 16 others injured when a mini bus skidded off the road and plunged into a gorge in Kishtwar district of Jammu on Friday, officials said. This is the third major accident in the region in the last one month. “The driver of the mini bus lost control over it while negotiating a curve,” the officials added. SSP-Kishtwar Rajinder Gupta said most of the victims died on the spot. “On receiving the information, a massive rescue operation was initiated by local police along with the Army and locals. Eleven critically injured were airlifted to Jammu,” he said.



Mumbai’s richest Ganesh mandal takes Rs. 265 crore insurance cover


Mumbai: The wealthiest Ganesh mandal in Mumbai —King’s Circle’s GSB Seva Mandal—has taken an insurance policy worth almost Rs 264.8 crore this season. This is marginally higher than last year’s policy of Rs 264.3 crore, yet it is short of the record Rs 300 crore insurance sought in 2016. Committee member RG Bhat said, “There are several components to the policy. An all-risk covers of Rs 19 crore factors gold, silver and cash, in transit as well. The standard fire and special peril component of Rs 1 crore includes earthquake and electric shock. Public liability covers the exhibition area and pandals for Rs 20 crore. We have 2,244 workers, members and volunteers who receive personal accident cover of Rs 10 lakh each. We also have a standard peril policy of Rs 35 lakh.



Alarms & CCTV’s in Buses soon



New Delhi: Your bus rides are going to get safer as Delhi government will soon be floating tenders for installing CCTV cameras, GPS and panic buttons in all DTC and cluster scheme buses. Plans are also afoot to provide Wi-Fi in the transport vehicles. The plan includes installation of four panic buttons in each bus, which will be linked to a GPS system, apart from three internet protocol-based CCTV cameras. The live feeds will be monitored from a centralised control room from where immediate action will be taken if a panic button is pressed. “We will float the tender as soon as the transport minister gives the go-ahead. The file is with him at present,” said a transport department official. “We expect the rollout to begin from March next year. We are also discussing the possibility of providing Wi-Fi, but the plan is at a nascent stage,” he added. Transport minister Kailash Gahlot couldn’t be contacted for comments despite repeated phone calls and messages.


As part of the plan, on-board announcements and LED display boards will notify that the bus is equipped with a panic alar m system. If an alar m is pressed, a loud beep will sound for 40 seconds. The driver will then have to take the bus to left side of the road and stop it. The conductor will locate who pressed the alarms and assist her. If the situation cannot be addressed, then the depot manager will be informed to call the PCR. The panic alarm will also be integrated with GPS so that every time it is pressed the depot manager and central command centre of cluster bus operations at DIMTS Kashmere Gate will get an immediate alert. The CCTV cameras will have pan-tilt-zoom capability and will be rugged to withstand vandalism. In a pilot, DTC had installed 200 cameras in buses of Sarojini Nagar and Rajghat depots. Each bus has three cameras and maintains data for 15 days.



Panic buttons in all cabs by next year



New Delhi: From April next year, all taxis operating in Delhi will have GPS-linked panic buttons, including those running under app-based aggregator platforms. The measure is being taken by Delhi government’s transport department keeping in mind the safety of passengers, particularly women. “Initially, we had planned that all taxis and cabs in Delhi would have panic buttons by 2018 but now the date has been postponed to April 2019,” said a senior transport department official. The official said the panic button would be connected with the GPS device of the vehicle and the moment a passenger presses the button, an ‘SOS’ icon would flash on the GPS tracking screens at the department’s control room. “We would be able to find out the precise location of the taxi immediately and take necessary action,” he said.


Early this year, the transport department has set up an Operations Control Centre at its headquarters in north Delhi’s Civil Lines area. Transport officials have started tracking real-time location of taxis, auto rickshaws and other public vehicles thanks to the GPS devices installed in the vehicles. Cabs of app-based aggregators, however, are not being tracked at the moment as a separate regulatory policy is being formulated for them. “The problem with cabs of app-based aggregators is that most of them have All-India Tourist Permits and don’t come under our purview. However, the Centre has now made it mandatory for all taxis to have these panic buttons and they will come under its ambit,” the official said.



Rain returns to Bengaluru, may stay for 2-3 days


Bengaluru: Rain lashed Bengaluru on Friday evening, flooding several parts of the city and leaving commuters stuck in traffic jams for hours. The downpour was severe in east and north Bengaluru. Meteorological department officials said rain is likely to continue for another two-three days, and there would be thundershowers too. Areas in the central business district, Hebbal, Whitefield, Rajarajeshwari Nagar, Shivajinagar, JP Nagar, Chamarajpet, Jayanagar, Vidyaranyapura and Shivajinagar received heavy rainfall, up to 34mm. Those heading towards the city from the international airport were caught in traffic snarls, prompting Hebbal traffic police to tweet, “Due to heavy waterlogging at Hebbal circle and Hebbal flyover up-ramp, slow-moving traffic towards the city (sic) ”. On Quadrant Road in Shivajinagar and in areas around Domlur, pedestrians were forced to wade through ankle-deep water. A wall collapsed near Banaswadi Ayyappa temple. The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) control room which received the complaint said no one was injured. The control room received two complaints of waterlogging in Kammanahalli-Banaswadi and on Residency Road, and two of falling trees — one in Banaswadi and the second in Judicial Layout, Yelahanka.



Outpatient wing sees operational halt as fire breaks out at Apollo Hospital



Hyderabad: The outpatient wing in Apollo Hospital, Jubilee Hills, was closed for some time after a minor fire broke out in the cellar of the hospital on Friday morning. Fire services department sources put the property loss at Rs 10 lakh. Electric short-circuit caused the fire. However, there was no disruption in any service at the hospital. The smoke was first noticed at around 6.15 am by the hospital staff, who immediately alerted the fire control room. Two fire tenders and a mist bullet were rushed and it took five hours for 33 firefighters to douse the fire. “The cellar area was filled with smoke and spreading towards the ground floor. Our men entered the storeroom and kitchen in the cellar from where the smoke was billowing out. The fire occurred due to a short-circuit,” said Srinivas Reddy, district fire officer, Hyderabad. Reddy said a lot of time was consumed in getting rid of the smoke. “Our men used smoke exhausters and sprayed water occasionally,” he said. The fire was put out without any area in the hospital getting affected, he said and added that services did not face disruption. Fire alarm systems, automatic firefighting systems, compartmentalization of the hospital (to prevent fire and smoke from spreading from one area to another) and regular fire drills were of great help in limiting the impact of the fire, said a statement from Apollo Hospital.



2 kids with swine flu fight for life in ICU


Kolkata: Two children down with swine flu are battling for life in a pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at a city hospital. While both are on ventilation, doctors said condition of one was particularly critical. Virologists are baffled at the prevalence of H1N1 virus now, given it usually retreats by August. Hooghly’s eight-and-a-half-year old Sritama Roy was rushed to Institute of Child Health on Tuesday with severe respiratory distress and fever. Right since her admission, she has been on ventilation. Reports confirming H1N1 reached the hospital on Thursday. “The girl was in a very serious condition when she was brought in and she was put on ventilation right away. Her condition is extremely critical,” said Dr. Prabhas Prasun Giri, PICU in-charge at ICH. The other child, five-and-a-half year-old Barsha Biswas, a resident of Nadia was admitted to ICH a week ago.


Like Sritama, Barsha, too, was gasping for breath when her parents hospitalized her, and she was also immediately put on ventilation. Tests have confirmed H1N1. “Last year, we had about 18 serious cases of H1N1. This year, when we were hoping that swine flu was over and that no children had been affected, these two kids were brought in. Both of them are very ill,” Giri said. The season for swine flu usually lasts from May to August. According to virologists, the H1N1virus thrives during the monsoon, peaking by July. It starts retreating by August-end. “Most swine flu cases are reported during the rains. But stray cases happen at any time, even winter,” said Dr. Amiya Hati, former director, Calcutta School of Tropical Medicine.



AI-based system to forecast flood in city week in advance


Chennai: When the sluices of Chembarambakkam reservoir were opened following heavy rain in December 2015, there was no warning from the authorities and the residents had no clue a devastating flood was on its way. This monsoon, artificial intelligence may play a crucial role in keeping the city better prepared. That’s when C-Flows or Chennai Flood Warning System, which can forecast flooding five days to a week in advance, will be put to test. Developed by scientists from National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR), it will give authorities sufficient time to plan evacuation. Integrated with numerical models, this GIS-based decision support system will be able to forecast flooding in any locality, ward, street or even building in the city along with evacuation routes. To run the model, scientists require data on weather, surge and tide prediction, hydrology condition, water levels and discharge from rivers and reservoirs apart from basic information on the topography including elevation, moisture and drainage condition. In about 30 minutes to an hour, authorities will get an output in the form of maps, texts and numbers, some of them in 3D visual formats. “We are in the process of signing an MoU with the state government, and C-Flows will be operated in test mode this northeast monsoon. The prediction from the system will be validated with data collected from the field,” said NCCR director MV Ramanamurthy.


C-Flows comes with a database of more than 700 flood situations based on rainfall for various return periods, tidal conditions, etc. Once data on weather forecast and tide is fed, the system will pick the most relevant situation. Inundation models will also run on a real-time basis to simulate the ground situation based on actual datasets from IMD and NCMRWF, INCOIS. According to NCCR, Chennai is more vulnerable to floods than cities like Bengaluru. “Compared to Goa and Bengaluru the elevation in Chennai is less. So, water cannot drain into the sea fast. When it rains heavy during high tide, water cannot evaporate and will flood laterally into the land. Adding to this, high precipitation and release of water from reservoirs make the city vulnerable to floods,” he explained. C-Flows is a culmination of the project initiated by the office of the principal scientific advisor to the Centre and institutes like IIT-B, IIT-M, IRS Anna University, NCMRWF and IMD. It will be made operational along with the TN government next year. Tune Usha of NCCR said output was validated using more than 400 field points collected during the 2015 flood when NCCR teams mapped flood levels from various parts of the city. “A mobile-based app has also been developed as a part of the system where the official in-charge of a ward can go to the field, click images and geotag them in the app. This information will be made available online to the city’s administrators table,” she said.



International News



4 Dead in US as Florence Sparks Catastrophic Flood

A stranded car, left, on a flooded road as Hurricane Florence swept through the area in North Carolina on Friday.



New Bern (North Carolina): Hurricane Florence was pounding the Carolinas with as much as three inches of rain an hour on Friday as it trudged inland at a meager 5 miles an hour. As much as two feet of rain had already fallen in some places, combining with a wind-driven storm surge to cause catastrophic flooding. In Wilmington, North Carolina, a mother and her infant child were killed when a tree fell on their house, the police said. The authorities also reported the death of person who was killed while plugging in a generator, and the storm was also a factor in the death of a woman from a heart attack in Hampstead. In the riverfront city of New Bern, emergency rescue teams were trying to reach hundreds of residents trapped in cars, on roofs and in attics as the Neuse River overflowed and flooded the city. The hurricane’s storm surges the wall of water it pushed in from the Atlantic had “overwhelmed” New Bern, a town of about 30,000 people next to the Neuse River, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said. Authorities said more than 60 people, including children and pets, had to be evacuated from a hotel in North Carolina, after strong winds caused parts of the roof to collapse. More than 100 others were also rescued from the flood-marooned houses. Florence had been a Category 3 hurricane on Thursday but dropped to Category 1 before coming ashore. It is expected to move across parts of North Carolina and South Carolina.



Armageddon-like gas Blasts rock Boston



Andover: Some 8,000 people were prevented from returning home in Boston suburbs on Friday as investigators scrambled to find out the cause of dozens of gas explosions that killed at least one person, injured at least 25 others and left dozens of houses in smoldering ruins. The National Transportation Safety Board sent a team to help investigate, saying pipelines are within its jurisdiction. The rapid-fire series of gas explosions that one official described as “Armageddon” ignited fires in 60 to 80 homes in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, forcing the neighborhoods to evacuate as crews scrambled to fight the flames. Gas and electricity remained shut off on Friday in most of the area, and entire neighborhoods were eerily deserted. Massachusetts State Police urged all residents with homes serviced by Columbia Gas in the three communities to evacuate. Some 400 people spent the night in shelters, and school was cancelled Friday as families waited to return to their homes. Governor Charlie Baker said state and local authorities were investigating but that it could take days or weeks before they turn up answers, acknowledging the “massive inconvenience” for those displaced by the explosions. He said hundreds of gas technicians were going house-to-house to ensure each was safe. Columbia Gas was sued in 2014 after a strip club was destroyed in a natural gas explosion two years earlier.

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