News Flash – 18 December 2017

National News



Two defraud ATM users of Rs 89k, held



New Delhi: Two men were arrested for cheating multiple people by taking their ATM cards while pretending to help them withdraw money. DCP (north) Jatin Narwal said that Dharmender (22) and Prince (20) were arrested on Friday. Police recovered Rs 89,000 and three ATM cards from the accused. Police officers said they received many complaints from people around North Campus of Delhi University where the victims found that after using ATMs there, extra money got deducted from their accounts. All the complainants narrated the same incident where two boys approached them to help them withdraw money. While analysing CCTV cameras, police saw two boys standing with one complainant. Sketches were prepared based on the footage and a manhunt was launched. Police managed to get the registration number of the motorcycle that was used by them and based on that, they got their phone number from the company that had financed the vehicle. The accused told police that they stood near the ATMs and identified possible victims, who were usually the ones who had trouble using the machine. They would enter the kiosk and offer help. During conversation, they would change the victim’s card with a similar looking card. Later, they would transact the amount from the account.



Fire at 7-storey Andheri building



Mumbai: A minor fire broke out in a building at Lokandwala in Andheri (W) on Sunday evening. It was quickly doused, said fire officials. The fire brigade received a call at 5.40pm about a fire at the ground-plus-seven-storey Garden View building in Shastri Nagar. “The fire was on the sixth floor,” said an officer. The cause of the fire is unknown.



Fatal accidents on Hyderabad roads drop by 50%


Hyderabadis, you can finally heave a sigh of relief, as not all roads of the city lead to Yamraj! No, the chances of you meeting with an accident on city roads are just as high as before. but thankfully, the number of fatalities caused by road accidents has reduced by 50 per cent. What’s more, in 2017, Hyderabad has seen the least number of fatal accidents when compared to the last five years. According to data released by Hyderabad Traffic Police, the number of accidents leading to death in the year 2017 stand at 288. That’s a huge improvement from 400 — the annual average for fatal accidents for the past five years. “Hyderabad city records about 2,500 accidents annually. While there has been no dip in those numbers yet, the number of “We had 83 black spots in the city which were catalysts to increasing the chances of accidents. Since these have been removed, with road widening initiatives, traffic islands and closure of U-Turns and junctions, we have achieved lessened accident rates,” adds DCP Ranganath. Introduction of pelican signals, which indicate when the pedestrians can cross, also helped reduce accidents. Take for instance, the pelican traffic signal at Mehdipatnam junction, which turned out to be a boon for pedestrians. The junction, which has over 300 persons crossing every minute, was regulated with the help of pelican signals, inform officials.


Mistakes made, lessons learnt: The traffic police have learnt their lessons the hard way, some would say, as it took two catastrophic accidents to get some of these much-needed changes underway. At Jublee hills and Banjara hills, one of fastest corridors in the city limits, it took the deaths of Nishith Narayana, an AP minister’s son and Ramya, a seven-year-old girl, to initiate corrective action. Authorities inform they have now installed ‘rumbler strips’ to cut off the speed at these problematic spots. the closure of junctions and increasing the number of U-turns have also helped. “The chances of collisions of vehicles have reduced. But some of these newly formed U-Turns are not wide enough to allow seamless passing of large vehicles and busses. Some more work needs to be done on that,” informs S Adishankar, secretary, Roadkraft.


Pedestrians still get the raw deal: Hyderabad roads can be a nightmare for those on foot, and with the coming of the metro, walking is only set to increase. While 2017 saw traffic islands at Tarnaka, Mettuguda and a few other junctions, it also saw the metro medians rob away pedestrians’ ease of crossing. “How do they expect us to cross roads where the medians are as high as 3 feet with plants filling them. We have only two options — to either cross over these high medians or walk on busy roads with no footpaths, both of which are equally dangerous,” says Anju Nair, a commuter. Experts note that matters get worse in areas with high pedestrian crossing like near Hyderabad Public School, Begumpet, where the lack of any gaps within the central medians is endangering lives of the pedestrians.


However, metro authorities say, while compromises have been made on road crossings, the metro stations themselves act as foot over bridges, which can be accessed without purchasing tickets. But experts are skeptical. “Using metro as a foot over bridge is possible only if the station is on the middle of the road. If it is on the side, it can’t be used. So at places like Parade ground, which is so heavy on pedestrian traffic, it is of no use. Moreover, Hyderabad is not accustomed to using FOBs so we must invest more on zebra crossings,” adds Adishankar. So while a lot more needs to be done, with the recent handing over of the subject to the Roads and Buildings department, experts feel road safety measures in the city are heading in the right direction. Previously it was managed by the transport department. Fatalities have reduced dramatically. From 463 deaths in 2012 and 405 in 2016, we have come a long way to just 288 in 2017, which is great news,” says AV Ranganath, DCP, Hyderabad Traffic Police. So what worked in motorists’ favour? A lot more than plain luck, it seems.



International News



9 killed, 44 injured in suicide attack on Quetta church

Injured being taken out of the church.



ISLAMABAD: Nine people were killed and more than 40 injured after a suicide bomber blew himself up at a church during Sunday mass in the southwestern city of Quetta just days before Christmas. Many casualties resulted from a second attacker firing upon worshippers who too was killed. The bombing occurred at the Bethel Memorial Methodist Church on Quetta’s Zarghoon Road at a time when 400 Christians were attending the mid-day service. According to police, the first attacker blew himself up at the gate of the Church, while the second was wounded in firing and later killed. Moazzam Ansari, the police chief of the restive Balochistan province, told reporters, “There were 400 worshippers inside the church when it came under attack. Many precious lives were saved due to the quick response of police present in the area. Had the attackers not been stopped, there could have been hundreds of people killed casualties”. Balochistan home minister Mir Sarfraz Bugti confirmed two suicide bombers were involved in the attack. “The terrorists had weapons and it seems they wanted to take hostages inside the church. The presence of police and paramilitary force stopped them from completing their mission,” Bugti said. The church has organised different programmes throughout December to mark Christmas, according to its Facebook page, and was holding a ‘Sunday School Christmas Programme’ at the time of the attack.


Injuries to worshippers were caused mainly by wooden splinters from the door and glass splinters of the church’s windows, police said. A civil defence official said that the two attackers, believed to have been between 16 and 20 years of age, had strapped 15 kilograms of explosives to their bodies. The Bethel Memorial Church has been the target of a terrorist attack in the past despite falling in Quetta’s high-security zone. Balochistan, Pakistan’s mineral-rich and largest province by area, has been at the centre of recent instances of violence. Separatist groups, demanding autonomy and a greater share in resources of the province, frequently target security forces and government installations while Taliban and other Islamist militants also operate in the province and often target members of the Hazara Shia community in the region. Pakistan’s Christian minority has been subjected to frequent terror attacks in the past. In March 2015, 15 people were killed and more than 70 injured after Taliban suicide bombers attacked two churches in Lahore‘s Youhanabad neighbourhood. In September 2013, more than 100 people were killed after twin explosions at a church in the northwestern city of Peshawar.



Taliban kill 11 Afghan police in attack on checkpoints



KABUL: Taliban insurgents attacked checkpoints in the southern Helmand province early Sunday, killing 11 police, an official said. Omar Zwak, the spokesperson for the provincial governor, said Afghan forces eventually repelled the attack in the provincial capital, Lashkar Gah. He said the insurgents also suffered casualties, without providing figures. The Taliban, who have a strong and growing presence in Helmand, claimed the attack. The insurgents launch near-daily attacks across the country, mainly targeting security forces. In the southern Kandahar province, a suicide car bomber attacked a convoy of foreign forces, killing an Afghan woman and wounding five other civilian bystanders, said Gen. Abdul Raziq, the Kandahar police chief. He said he did not know if any foreign forces were killed or wounded. A spokesperson for the coalition said he was not immediately able to confirm reports of the attack.



26 dead in landslides after Philippine storm: Officials


MATNOG, PHILIPPINES: Landslides triggered by Tropical Storm Kai-Tak have killed 26 people and 23 more are missing in the eastern Philippines, authorities said on Sunday. The deaths were reported in the small island province of Biliran, a day after the storm pounded the east of the archipelago nation. Kai-Tak tore across the major islands of Samar and Leyte on Saturday, toppling power lines in 39 towns or cities and damaging roads and bridges, the national disaster agency said. Some 87,700 people were forced from their homes in the region. But the previous death toll had stood at just three. “There is a total of 26 people dead from landslides in four towns of Biliran. We have recovered the bodies,” Sofronio Dacillo, provincial disaster risk reduction and management officer, told AFP. Gerardo Espina, governor of the island province just east of Leyte, gave the same figure for deaths in an interview on ABS-CBN television. He said 23 people were missing. The national disaster risk reduction agency could not immediately confirm if the 26 deaths in Biliran included the initial three fatalities it reported on Saturday. Kai-Tak weakened on Sunday afternoon, with gusts of up to 80 kilometres (50 miles) an hour, and was reclassified as a tropical depression, state weather forecasters said. But disaster officials warned that more floods and landslides were possible and said 15,500 passengers were stranded because ferry services remained suspended in parts of the region.


“I’ve been stranded for three days, sleeping in the bus, and I just want to get home to my family for Christmas,” Eliaquin Pilapil, a 55-year-old farmer, told AFP from a port in the town of Matnog in the eastern province of Sorsogon. The Christmas holidays are a busy travel season in the mainly Catholic Philippines, with people heading home to the provinces. The nation is battered by about 20 major storms each year. Samar and Leyte bore the brunt in 2013 of Super Typhoon Haiyan which left more than 7,350 people dead or missing. In the Leyte city of Tacloban, Saturday’s storm brought flash floods of up to 1.5 metres (five feet) and strong winds that left the city without power and water, according to its disaster office chief. “The storm moved so slowly that it brought so much rain to our city. The floods resulted from four days of rain,” Ildebrando Bernadas, head of Tacloban’s disaster risk reduction office, told AFP. Bernadas said 82 percent of Tacloban’s districts were flooded.

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