News Flash – 17 August 2018

National News



Kerala rain fury kills 26 more, Kochi airport shut till August 26

People are rescued in a boat in Kochi on Thursday. More rains have been predicted across Kerala till Saturday.



Kochi/Thiruvananthapuram: Heavy rains continued to batter Kerala, claiming the lives of 26 more people on Thursday as floods and landslides ravaged the region in what is being described as the worst disaster the coastal state has witnessed in living memory. Incessant rains since August 8 have so far killed 97 people, with more than 1.67 lakh being shifted to 1,165 relief camps across the state. Most parts of Kerala are now flooded, with the situation worsening in several places, including Kochi, where the backwaters are threatening to breach their banks. Kochi airport remains under water and has now been closed till August 26. Train services from Thiruvananthapuram have been suspended and Kochi Metro operations drastically cut short. The Met office said rains were expected to continue till Saturday, although a statewide “red alert”—the highest level weather warning—was in place only till Thursday. PM Modi will visit Kerala on Friday evening and conduct an aerial survey of the affected regions on Saturday. CM P Vijayan had sent an SOS to Modi on Wednesday, describing the floods as the worst ever in the state. The toll is likely to rise as rescuers are struggling to reach far-flung locations. Rs. 8,000 crores damage to crops, properties in Kerala so far, Hundreds of people are trapped on terraces of homes, atop tall buildings and, in one case, in a marooned church, making it difficult for rescue teams to reach them. Pathanamthitta district was the worst affected over the last 24 hours with thousands of people stranded in their homes. Water levels in parts of Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam and Thrissur districts rose to 20 feet, turning streets into lakes, forcing rescuers to deploy inflatable boats to evacuate people.


A total of 52 teams of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and NDRF are already engaged in rescue operations. Several nongovernmental agencies have also joined. So far, 2,182 people have been rescued and 968 evacuated. Yet, by Thursday evening, it became evident that the scope of the disaster had outpaced efforts to cope with it. A fresh red alert was sounded in 13 of the 14 districts. All nine flood-monitoring stations of the Central Water Commission have notified ‘extreme flood situation’. Damage to crops and property across the state is estimated to be over Rs 8,000 crore. After a meeting of the national crisis management committee (NCMC) following a request for help from CM Vijayan, the Centre decided to send 35 more NDRF teams, comprising nearly 1,000 personnel. “The teams are equipped to assist state government authorities in launching quick rescue operations and help with food distribution,” NDRF director general Sanjay Kumar said. Meanwhile, the SC on Thursday directed the sub-committee on disaster management for Mullaperiyar dam authorities to convene an emergency meeting to chalk out a contingency plan to meet any crisis due to release of water from the dam and also consider reducing the water level to 139 feet from the present 142 feet. Due to the closure of Kochi airport until August 26, airfares to Trivandrum and Calicut shot up despite the regulator, DGCA, asking for a cap.



Homemaker from Kurla is season’s 1st dengue fatality


Mumbai: A homemaker from Kurla become the first casualty of mosquito-borne dengue viral fever in the city even as a 52-year-old man from Worli Koliwada succumbed to complications arising out of a rare dual infection of malaria and typhoid, according to Brihan Mumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) health file released on Thursday. Two others succumbed to this monsoon’s largest killer, leptospirosis, which has claimed nine lives between June 1 and August 15. “BMC’s death committee met on Thursday and declared four deaths, taking the total toll due to monsoon diseases to 11 so far,” said BMC’s executive health officer Dr Padmaja Keskar. According to Thursday’s declaration, the 32-year-old homemaker from Kurla, who succumbed to dengue, had fever with chills, body ache and pain in the abdomen for four days. “She went to a local doctor for three days and then moved to a BMC hospital on July 23. She died the following day due to dengue shock syndrome with acute respiratory distress syndrome,” according to the report.


A 25-year-old man from Kandivli village, who had gone swimming in a local lake, died of leptospirosis at a private hospital on July 28. Leptospirosis also claimed a 50-year-old male from Tilak Nagar who had walked through rainwater. The BMC’s release said that the patient, who had a bad liver as well as a history of tuberculosis, died after four days of hospitalisation on August 4. The dual infection of malaria and typhoid killed a 52-year-old man who worked for a housekeeping firm and had been hospitalised for only a day. A resident of Worli Koliwada, he had travelled to Alibaug a week ago, said BMC officials. BMC health officials said the intermittent rains aided mosquito breeding. “People have to be vigilant about water accumulation in balconies or gardens as mosquitoes can breed in such small pools of water as well,” said Dr Keskar. She said August-September is when dengue cases shoot up in Mumbai.



Cash van robber arrested after police shootout



New Delhi: A notorious gangster involved in a series of cash van robberies was arrested after a brief shootout with Special Cell. The man, Jitender alias Jeetu (29), carried a reward of Rs 1 lakh and was the man Friday of gangster Bharat Bhushan arrested earlier. Police said they are planning to book Jeetu and Bhushan under MCOCA. The gang members used to gun down their victims during robberies. By targeting multiple cash vans and collection agents in a short period, they had created panic among businessmen. DCP Sanjeev Yadav said that several teams had been formed to track down the gang members. “ACP Sanjay Dutt’s team got a tip-off that Jeetu would be coming near the NDPL office in Narela on a white Apache motorcycle. Around 4.30am, Jeetu was spotted and flagged down, but he turned and sped away,” he added. After a chase of about 10 kilometres, Jeetu was intercepted in Goga Dairy area. He tried to escape on foot, but the cops surrounded him. The man then shot at the cops, but was soon overpowered. The loaded pistol had ‘Made in Italy’ engraved on it with four cartridges in the magazine and one in its chamber. Jeetu told police that on April 26 he and his associates shot dead the gunman and cashier of a SIS cash van and looted Rs 12 lakh. The company employees had come to collect cash from DSIDC area in Narela. When they had collected cash from a wine shop in Vardhman Mall, Jeetu came on a motorcycle and began shooting indiscriminately. In March, the gang members had shot at a gas agency employee and looted cash. On February 3, another cash van employee was robbed of Rs 10 lakh after getting shot in the belly. They had shot at the cashier of an ATM cash van and looted Rs 19 lakh last year.



Damage to crop, property in Kerala floods pegged at Rs. 8,000 Crores so far


New Delhi: The floods in Kerala are estimated to have damaged crops and properties worth over Rs 8,000 crore even as a fresh red alert was sounded in 13 of the 14 districts in the state. All nine flood-monitoring stations of the Central Water Commission have notified ‘extreme flood situation’. NGOs have joined 52 teams of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and NDRF in relief and rescue operations in flood-ravaged Kerala but it became evident on Thursday that the scale of the disaster was greater than the current efforts to cope with it. Pathanamthitta district continued to remain the worst-affected with thousands of people stranded at their homes in Rani, Aranmula and Kozhencherry towns. Water levels in several parts of Pathanamthitta, Ernakulam and Thrissur districts rose to as high as 20 feet, turning streets into deep lakes. CM Pinarayi Vijayan spoke to PM Modi and other central leaders again on Thursday to request more help. Landslides were reported in Kannur, Wayanad, Kozhikode, Malappuram and Idukki districts. Munnar remained submerged for the third day while the Sabarimala shrine was cut off. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Thursday directed Mullaperiyar dam authorities to chalk out contingency plan to meet any crisis due to release of water and also consider reducing the water level to 139 feet from the present 142 feet. A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Indu Malhotra asked Tamil Nadu and Kerala to work harmoniously to get over the problem. Earlier, advocate Manoj George had contended release of water from the dam “at the whims and fancies of Tamil Nadu for extraneous reasons” is a threat to the life of people living downstream.



Monsoon mayhem ravages Karnataka


MOVING HOUSE: Video grabs of a house in Mallikarjun Nagar in Madikeri town sliding down 50ft as the earth under it collapsed. Luckily, the family of Yashauddi had left the house minutes earlier. Landslides across the hilly terrain of the town are leaving people in distress.


NO RELIEF: The Purandara Mantap at Hampi was submerged after outflow from Tungabhadra was increased to 2lakh cusecs.



Madikeri: Rain continued to pummel Kodagu district, leaving a trail of destruction and killing at least three people. After nearly two decades, Kodagu district is facing chaos of this magnitude: houses collapsed in at least three localities in Madikeri, while hundreds of thousands of residents were left without potable water and electricity. People are living on the edge, with landslides destroying populated areas. Roads are cut off due to landslides, and residents in far-flung areas are stranded. Two people died near Katakeri village, as houses caved in on them, while another person is missing. In Makkanduru village, at least two people were feared to have died when their house was flooded. The family of Yashauddi, living in Mallikarjun Nagar in Madikeri, had a narrow escape as minutes after they left the house to a safer spot, the double-storey building slid down 50ft as the land under it collapsed. Another house in Indira Nagar also caved in, while the building adjacent to it is on the verge of collapse. People who have lost their homes are inconsolable as they have lost almost everything they owned. In Chamundeswari Nagar in Madikeri, more than 100 people were shifted to temporary shelters. At least 10 houses are on the verge of collapse here. Scores of houses in the town are inundated, while the industrial suburb is also flooded. The NDRF team rushed to the affected areas and rescued people. The town looked deserted for a major part of the day as the business community didn’t open their shops, fearful of landslides and getting stranded due to road damage.


Across the district, power supply is cut off as electricity infrastructure has sustained major damages. Villagers are forced to drink rain water as water supply is hit. The district administration has opened rescue centres in many places across the district, including Madikeri, Napoklu, Siddapura and Somwarpet. Railway authorities on Thursday sent an SOS to the Hassan district administration, requesting them to immediately airlift 16 railway employees who are stuck at Yedakumeri railway station for 48 hours. The station, situated in the Ghat section, is hit by a landslide, and the building is in a dangerous condition. The railway staffers are unable to move out in either direction due to a massive landslide along with falling boulders. The station master sent a message that heavy rainfall and high speed winds are continuing. If a landslide occurs near the station, it will be wiped out, as there is a valley behind. Mysuru additional divisional railway manager AK Sinha sent an SOS message to Hassan DC Rohini Sindhuri, seeking airlifting of the staff, and said that railway authorities have no means to bring them out.



Shiradi Ghat blocked till Aug 25; Kukke marooned

WATERSCAPE: Kumaradhara river has cut off the pilgrim centre of Kukke Subrahmanya.



Mangaluru: The Dakshina Kannada district administration has banned movement of all vehicles on Shiradi Ghat stretch of the Bengaluru-Mangaluru National Highway 75 till 6am August 25. This decision was taken after reviewing the current situation and to safeguard travellers. The incessant rain in the Ghat section over the past week has led to numerous landslides, trapping travellers for a long period and triggered fatal accidents. Deputy commissioner Sasikanth Senthil directed police to erect signage at vantage points to alert passengers that the section has been closed to public till August 25. Officials of the National Highway division alerted the district administration that they need at least six days to clear the mud and debris blocking the road due to landslides. On August 14, a gas tanker driver and cleaner were killed following a landslide near Sakleshpur of Hassan district. On the same day, over 100 buses plying between Bengaluru and Mangaluru were stuck for nearly 20 hours due to multiple landslides on the 33-km Shiradi Ghat section. Rain lashes DK: Though rain abated in Dakshina Kannada district on Wednesday, it was back to square one on Thursday with a ferocious downpour since morning, especially in Sullia and Bantwal taluks. This prompted tehsildars of these taluks to declare a holiday for schools and colleges. The Nethravathi river was flowing at 9.1m at Bantwal, well above the danger mark of 8.5m. About 15 families marooned at Kuduremajalu near Subrahmanya, Sullia taluk, about 90km from here, were rescued by officials in a midnight operation and shifted them to the safety of a nearby school. Schools and colleges in Puttur, Sullia and Belthangady taluk will be closed on Friday. All rivers and rivulets are swollen, posing danger to people.


Bus services stalled: On Thursday, the movement of buses between Bengaluru and the coast was severely hampered with KSRTC operating skeletal non-premium services on Charmadi Ghat route, with both alternative routes, Shiradi and Sampaje, being closed for traffic due to landslides and road damage. Only non-AC sleeper, Rajahamsa and Express buses will play on the Charmadi route, said KSRTC divisional controller Deepak Kumar. “We’ll take a call depending on the situation as intimated by the district administration,’’ he added. No trains to Bengaluru till Aug 23: Train services to Bengaluru via Shiradi Ghat stretch on Subrahmanya Road-Sakleshpur section is unlikely to resume till August 23, due to landslips in 48 places in this 50km section. Incessant rain lashing the Ghat section since August 13 has resulted in landslips at multiple places between Sakleshpur and Subrahmanya Road, forcing authorities to regulate/cancel/ divert trains from August 14. Thursday rainfall: The district recorded 102mm rainfall in the past 24 hours from 8.30am Wednesday. Sullia taluk received the highest rainfall of 148mm, with Mangaluru taluk receiving the least (37mm). Belthangady, Puttur and Bantwal taluks received 146mm, 108mm and 68mm respectively. Last year, the district had received a paltry 12.5mm. The cumulative rainfall for the month till Thursday was 806mm, 50mm short of the normal average for the month with another fortnight to go. Last year, the district received 292mm of rain till August 16. As on Thursday, water level in the Nethravathi at Bantwal was 9.1m, well above the danger level of 8.5m. The water level of Nethravathi at Uppinangady and Kumaradhara river were close to the danger marks at 25m each, with levels being 28.5m and 29.5m respectively.



After rain pounding government sounds alert: Hyderabad wallows, state wades


Hyderabad: Heavy rain across several parts of the region, especially at erstwhile Adilabad and Karimnagar districts, disrupted normal life across Telangana. With medium and minor irrigation projects flowing to the brim, lakes, rivulets and tanks overflowing, several villages in Adilabad district were cut off from other villages. Water gushed into houses in low-lying areas including some colonies in Adilabad district headquarters. Following Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) prediction of heavy rain for next 48 hours, chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao instructed officials to be alert. He reviewed the situation with officials and spoke to chief secretary SK Joshi and DGP M Mahender Reddy on Thursday. The CM directed ministers, MPs, MLAs and MLCs to be available for people in respective districts and Assembly constituencies. According to IMD, Hyderabad, highest rain of 898mm during past 24 hours was recorded in Adilabad district. Bejjur in Asifabad district recorded maximum rainfall of 187mm received by any mandal in the state during the same period. Places such as Mancherial, Mandmarri, Koutala, Bellampally, Karimnagar and Chinta Manepally were also badly-hit due to heavy rainfall in the past 48 hours. Coal production was also hit at Srirampur and Mandamarri areas due to the rains as water gushed into mining areas. Work at Kaleshwaram project site was also stopped due to heavy rain. The irrigation department was forced to release 2 lakh cusecs of water from Kadem project and three lakhs from Yellampally project. Irrigation minister T Harish Rao told officials to move men and machinery from Kaleshwaram project sites at Sundilla, Annaram and Medigadda immediately.



48 hours after CCTV cameras set up, thieves make merry



Hyderabad: Just two days after closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras were installed at Brindavan Colony in Banjara Hills to improve safety of residents, miscreants made off with eight CCTV cameras. However, the theft was captured by the cameras and stored in recorders before they were removed. The three culprits have been taken into custody by Banjara Hills police. On the night of August 10, the culprits stole the eight cameras as well as the connecting wires. The next day, locals lodged a complaint. “In the complaint, Brindavan Colony Welfare Association (BCWA) office-bearers said the CCTV cameras from park area and Masjid-e-Fatima had been stolen. The cameras were installed only on August 8, 2018, for better surveillance of the park and masjid area to curb anti-social activities. However, the digital video recorder (DVR) and monitoring systems which had been kept inside the masjid recorded the theft,” Banjara Hills police said. During investigation, police checked the DVR and identified three culprits from the locality. “We identified the suspects, and arrested them based on DVR visuals,” Banjara Hills inspector K Srinivas said. Similar such incidents have been reported from other parts of the city as well. A businessman from Karkhana in Secunderabad was booked after he reportedly ‘ordered’ his employee to snap the community CCTV. He did not want other residents to know about his movements. However, the vandalism was captured on another CCTV, which was installed nearby.



Ordering online? Make sure you get the original product


Kolkata: Did the newly acquired mobile phone that you had ordered online develop snags hours after it had arrived at your doorstep? May be the delivery executive had a role to play in piling the misery on you. Kasba Police has busted a gang of delivery executives who used to work for e-commerce giants but replaced the costly electronic gadgets with their cheap Chinese versions before delivering them to customers. The investigation has led cops to an electronics dealer in the Bidhan Sarani area who accepted the expensive items and replaced them with Chinese devices. So far, four persons have been arrested. According to police sources, the cops got going after an FIR was registered on August 14 on the complaint of one Om Prakash Singh (30), the team leader with an e-commerce firm at Sarat Ghosh Garden Road at Kasba. Singh alleged that at least two delivery boys of their firm — Subho Acharya (25), a resident of Shyampukur, and Gariahat’s Mahesh Kumar Hela (23) — had conspired with some others and misappropriated six high-end mobile phones, which they were supposed to deliver to customers, causing a loss of Rs 2,76,080 to the company. IPC sections 408 (criminal breach of trust) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) were slapped on the duo and they were arrested from near Acropolis Mall on Rashbehari Connector.


After recording their statements, the investigators arrested Rohit Das (24) from his rented flat at Baguihati. After interrogating Das, the cops finally arrested the kingpin of this racket — Danis Ali (21), a resident of Bidhan Sarani — on Independence Day. “We have seized a travel bag containing 16 China-made mobile phones in sealed packs. Ali claimed these were to be used by them to replace the originals and deliver to customers,” said DC (SSD) Santosh Nimbalkar. Sources said the accused also spoke of a godown where Ali used to store an entire stock of such cheap mobile phones. “Preparations are being made to produce all the four accused persons before court with a prayer for police custody,” said an investigating officer. For its part, the ecommerce company said: “We have a zero-tolerance policy on incidents that impact customer trust. We conducted an internal investigation into this case and put all efforts to find out the real facts. Finally, we zeroed in on the two delivery boys before approaching police. Meanwhile, as a responsible marketplace, we are ascertaining if money will be refunded to customers in good faith”.



ATM fraud: Another Romanian under lens



Kolkata: Kolkata Police has claimed to have found the involvement of a sixth accused again a Romanian national in the recent ATM frauds. Police suspect he was involved in skimming cards in the city and usurping lakhs through ATMs. Lalbazar officers confirmed that they have sent a team to Chandigarh to bring one Miacelia Lucianinoud to the city. The accused was nabbed with two others by Chandigarh police recently in similar skimming fraud cases last week. “The accused gang had used around 20 ATMs in Delhi to withdraw money from the accounts of Kolkatans. When we began collecting footage and started going through them, we found that Lucianinoud had close links with three gang members, including leaders Adrian Liviu and Vaico Aurel, whom we had arrested earlier. This is the reason we will submit a prayer to a Chandigarh court and bring him here for questioning. If found to be a part of the gang, he will show as arrested,” explained the officer, adding that Lucianinoud is from Brasav and was on two-month tourist visa. The Chandigarh and Maharashtra police have contacted Kolkata Police after it emerged during questioning that the gang had hit multiple cities in Maharashtra and Chandigarh about a month ago.



Alert in TN delta districts as major rivers swell, many places flooded

UNDER WATER: Perur Padithurai bridge submerged by overflowing Noyyal river in Coimbatore.



Coimbatore: More than 200 people were evacuated from Thavittupalayam village near Thirumukkudal in Karur district as floods inundated their houses and hundreds of acres of agriculture land on Thursday. Since the area falls at the confluence of the Cauvery, Bhavanisagar and Amaravathi rivers, the district administration has moved the people to safety. It is after 40 years that more than 3 lakh cusecs of water are being realized at Thirumukkudal. A flood alert has been sounded in 11 districts as the discharge from the Mettur, Bhavanisagar and Amaravathi dams was expected to go up, with Karnataka releasing 2.1 lakh cusecs from the Kabini and Krishnaraja Sagar dams into the Cauvery. The Central Water Commission has issued an alert saying a combined release of about 2.5 lakh cusecs was expected to be made from the Mettur and Bhavanisagar dams and asked the state government to take precautionary steps. The downstream areas of Thirumukkudal were expected to see a combined release of more than 3 lakh cusecs. It is after 40 years that such a quantum of water is being realised at this spot. A total of 10 camps in Mettur, three camps in Edappadi and three in Sankagiri have been kept ready to put up people in case of emergency. With substantial outflow from the dams following heavy rain in Kerala and Karnataka, many areas have been flooded, dislocating families and throwing life out of gear. Many trains were either cancelled or partially cancelled.


As Hogenakkal falls in Dharmapuri saw 1.7lakh cusecs of inflow, water surrounded 31 houses which had been constructed on river poromboke land. People have been barred from bathing in the Hogenakkal falls; coracle rides have been barred. In Coimbatore, three houses collapsed on Thursday morning after surplus water from the Kurichi tank was discharged into the Noyyal river through the Sunnambu Kalvai channel. In Kanyakumari district, the rain has receded but it would take a few days for the district to limp back to normalcy. Many low lying parts close to the Thamirabarani and Paraliyar rivers and channels that were flooded on Wednesday continued to be inundated on Thursday as well. Hundreds of houses in such low lying areas were still under water. Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu has offered to chlorinate water supply and provide medical support to people in areas of Wayanad and Idukki districts of Kerala. On Thursday, officials from the state health department were discussing the needs with officials in the border areas. Essential medicines, including antibiotics such as doxycycline, have been sent by the Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation to border areas and medical camps have been set up. “There are in areas where approach from the Kerala side is difficult. Officials working in border areas of both the states were working together,” he said. Doctors from the Nilgiris and Theni districts have set up camps to help people living in Kerala.



International News



Jakarta covers up stinky river for Asian Games

WHEN YOU CAN’T CLEAN IT, HIDE IT: Clogged with decades of garbage, River Sentiong is one of the most polluted of Jakarta’s 13 waterways.



Jakarta: With thousands of Asia’s top athletes preparing to descend on the Indonesian capital for the start of the 2018 Asian Games this weekend, city officials were in crisis mode about a heavily polluted river behind the athletes’ village. After an emergency dredging and water purification project was deemed infeasible, officials came up with a plan to fix their river problem that would impress David Copperfield: They hid it. Last month, workers erected a nearly kilometer-long black nylon net covering the “kali item”, or Black River, a local nickname for the polluted waterway. For good measure, they laid rows of lights across the cover, creating a festive — albeit slightly perverse — evening light show. Clogged with decades of garbage, the river, officially the Sentiong, is one of the most polluted of Jakarta’s 13 rivers and canals. The nearly stagnant water beneath the net looks more like a tar pit, and releases a gag-inducing smell. Residents of a slum next to the river, their nostrils by now immune to the foul stench, say they are not bothered by it but can understand the government’s logic in hiding it. “We want the athletes to enjoy being in Jakarta,” said Jazuli, 31, who works for a local snack distributor. “We don’t want them to see the river and say, ‘What in the name of God is that.

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