News Flash – 18 July 2017

National News



Robbers drill hole in wall, rob Palghar jewellery shop

The robbers had gained entry by drilling a hole through the rear brick wall



MUMBAI: A jewellery showroom in Palghar was robbed by drilling a hole through the wall of a rear vacant shop. According to the Palghar police the theft came to light when the owner opened his Dabholkar jewellery showroom on Monday morning. He found the showroom ransacked and gold and silver ornaments worth Rs 8.50 lakhs missing. What shocked him was that the robbers had gained entry by drilling a hole through the rear brick wall. The hole was big enough for an adult to enter and leave. Screw drivers and cutters were found on the spot. The police suspect that the crime may have been committed in the wee hours as it would have taken a while to break the brick wall. The police are questioning the owner of the shop that was used to commit the crime.



Snag on Delhi Metro’s Yellow Line leads to delay



NEW DELHI: Metro commuters had a tough time during Monday evening peak hour as a technical snag affected train operations on Delhi Metro‘s Yellow Line (Samaypur Badli – HUDA City Centre). A snag in the Overhead Equipment (OHE), part of the Metro’s electrification system, led to trains running painfully slow on the corridor. “Train services on Yellow Line have been affected between Jahangirpuri and Vishwavidyalaya section due to some OHE problem on the down line (going towards Gurgaon) since 7.50 pm,” said a Delhi Metro spokesperson. As the line going towards Gurgaon was closed, the `up line’ towards Samaypur Badli was being used for both up and down train operations, which lead to the delays. “Necessary OHE repair work is being undertaken and normalcy is likely to be restored shortly,” the spokesperson added.



Heavy rains lash Mumbai

Traffic on Western Express Highway at Goregaon due to heavy rain in Mumbai. TOI photo



MUMBAI: Heavy rains continued to lash many parts of Mumbai all throughout Monday evening. The IMD has forecast heavy showers for the next 24 hours as well. The rainfall recorded in the 12 hours from 8.30am-8.30pm on Monday by the IMD Santa Cruz observatory was 126.6 mm while the Colaba observatory recorded 48.6mm of rainfall. At many places in the city owing to heavy rains there have been bus diversions near National College in Bandra, Sion Road No. 24 and Milan subway. Meanwhile Andheri subway was shut for 30 minutes owing to water logging. At many places, more than 45 mm of rainfall has been recorded in a period of one hour owing to the heavy rains by some of the BMC automatic weather stations. At Khar once again owing to heavy rains there was water-logging in Jay Bharat Society. Surindra Kubchandani, a resident, said that problem is not water-logging but the fact that water is just not receding. “We are under house arrest and water is not receding despite the rains not being extremely heavy. My wife who is at Pali Hill cannot even come back home as the water is over the level of the car opening which will only lead to water entering the car if she tries to open the door upon reaching the area,” said Khubchandani.



Safety glare on schools after 4 hostellers die within 1 week



HYDERABAD: Safety issues in educational institutions are back in the spotlight after negligence by officials of a social welfare residential school in the backward Mancheryal district claimed the life of a 13-year-old student. With four deaths of students in the past one week, child rights activists and educationists are questioning the state government’s lack of scientific supervision over schools. Many schools are running without proper infrastructure. “The government initiates action against school managements even for minor lapses or lack of facilities. But whenever something major happens in a government or corporate school, officials turn a blind eye. Many government residential schools do not have proper infrastructure,” said M Kodandaram, an educationist. He added, “On one hand, students are suffering in government hostels with food poisoning and on the other, lack of infrastructure and facilities are claiming students’ lives. They are putting tremendous pressure on students to excel and gain more marks. They are also forcing students to commit suicide”.


On July 13, a class IX student lost his life in a private school in Karimnagar district after he fell down the stairs. A couple of days before that, a student from a minority school was found hanging from the ceiling at a minority welfare school hostel. On July 15, an 11-year-old studying in a madrassa died after he fell in a tank while trying to retrieve pages of the Holy Quran. Activists demanded that the government take action against those concerned for their sheer negligence. “In all the four cases, students died because of negligence by the management,” said Achyuta Rao, a child rights activist. On July 10, 42 students of Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya Gurukul in Kumaram Bheem district fell ill due to suspected food poisoning.



Consumer court asks bank to compensate customer for ATM fraud



KOLKATA: Five years ago, assistant secretary in Central Cabinet Secretariat Dipak Chakraborty went to an ATM in Darjeeling to withdraw money. He inserted his card and tried to with draw Rs 10,000 but he failed. He tried once more, only to fail again. As no slip came out of the ATM, Chakraborty left the ATM in Hakimpara, Darjeeling. But he then received a message from the bank that Rs 40,000 had been debited from his account. Upon approaching the bank, Dipak was provided no help. The authorities blamed him for the transaction. The central government employee then appealed to the consumer forum. Both the district court and the state court rejected bank’s call on the matter. The bank alleged that Dipak had not cancelled the transaction properly, which helped the scamsters. At this, the court recently asked the bank to provide CCTV footage. But the bank could not provide it. Moreover, the bank authorities could not answer how Rs 40,000 was debited when the account holder had attempted to withdraw only Rs 20,000. Thus, the consumer court directed the bank to compensate Dipak Chakraborty for the entire amount along with 9 per cent interest. State consumer court’s presiding member Shyamal Gupta’s bench also asked the bank to compensate Rs 10,000 more to the victim as part of the cost to the case.



Kodungaiyur fire: Building owners on the run



Chennai: A day after a fireman was killed and 47 others were injured in the Kodungaiyur bakery fire, police booked two more people in connection with the case on Monday. Police registered a case under IPC section 304 A(causing death due to negligence) against owner of the building – Ram Gandhi and his sister Nagarathnam. However the duo were absconding and police have launched a hunt for them. Police on Sunday already registered a case against Anandan, the owner of the shop, who suffered burns and is undergoing treatment at the government Kilpauk Medical College and Hospital. An investigating officer said preliminary inquiries suggested that the building owners violated norms. “We are yet to trace them. Only a detailed enquiry will reveal more details. Anandan is hospitalised and we would question him only after his condition gets stable,” said senior police officer. On Saturday night, a fire which broke out in a bakery killing a firefighter and injuring at least 47 others. The deceased fireman was identified as 50-year-old S Egaraj, of Kadangam village in Virudhunagar district. He was sent to Chennai by the fire and rescue services department for training 15 days ago. The explosion and blaze injured three firemen, five policemen, two home guards and 38 members of the public, many of whom were trying to take pictures and record videos of the scene on their cellphones.



International News



7.7-magnitude quake hits off



WASHINGTON: An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.7 struck off the eastern coast of Russia, according to the US Geological Survey, causing officials to initially warn of a tsunami threat in parts of the Pacific. But the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center lifted that forecast a short time later, saying it did not expect “a destructive Pacific-wide tsunami,” and adding there was no threat to Hawaii. “Minor sea level fluctuations may occur in some coastal areas near the earthquake over the next few hours,” the center said. Waves had been initially forecast to be less than 0.3 metres above the tide level for coasts in the area ranging from Russia to Hawaii, the tsunami authority said. The quake at 2334 GMT hit 199 kilometres east-southeast of Nikol’skyoe, Russia, the US Geological Survey said, noting that it struck at a depth of 11.7 kilometres.



9 dead, boy missing in flash flood in Arizona swim hole

The creek under the First Crossing Bridge, following a deadly flash-flooding that ripped through the Tonto National Forest, Arizona.



TONTO NATIONAL FOREST, Arizona: Nine people died and a 13-year-old boy was missing Sunday after their group of family and friends was swept away while cooling off in a creek that suddenly turned treacherous when a rainstorm upstream unleashed floodwaters in Arizona‘s Tonto National Forest. Gila County Sheriff’s Detective David Hornung told The Associated Press that the group from the Phoenix and Flagstaff areas had met up for a daytrip along the popular Cold Springs swimming hole near Payson in central Arizona and were playing in the water Saturday afternoon when muddy flood waters came roaring down the canyon. The group, ranging in age from 2 to 60, had set out chairs to lounge on a warm summer day when miles upstream an intense thunderstorm dumped heavy rainfall on the mountain. Disa Alexander was hiking to the swimming area where Ellison Creek and East Verde River converge when the water suddenly surged. She was still about two miles away when she spotted a man holding a baby and clinging to a tree. His wife was nearby, also in a tree. Had they been swept downstream, they would have been sent over a 20-foot waterfall, Alexander said. Alexander and others tried to reach them but couldn’t. Rescuers arrived a short time later. “We were kinda looking at the water; it was really brown,” she said. “Literally 20 seconds later you just see like hundreds of gallons of water smacking down and debris and trees getting pulled in. It looked like a really big mudslide”.


Video she posted to social media showed torrents of water surging through jagged canyons carved in Arizona’s signature red rock. “I could have just died!” Alexander exclaimed on the video, which shows the people in the tree and then rescuers arriving on the scene. A boy Alexander described as the couple’s son was on the rocks above the water. Search and rescue crews, including 40 people on foot and others in a helicopter, recovered the bodies of five children and four adults, some as far as two miles down the river. Authorities did not identify them. Four others were rescued Saturday and taken to Banner hospital in nearby Payson for treatment of hypothermia. Rescuers got to the four victims quickly after the crew heard their cries while they were nearby helping an injured hiker. Daniel Bustamante, 16, sat on a bench with his friend Daniel Rodriguez outside the local mortuary in Payson where victims were brought. He said he came from Phoenix after getting a Snapchat message from a friend. The flash-flooding hit Saturday afternoon at Cold Springs canyon, about 100 miles northeast of Phoenix, a popular recreation area reached by relatively easy hiking paths. Some know it was as Ellison Creek or Water Wheel swimming holes. Hornung said the treacherously swift waters gushed for about 10 minutes before receding in the narrow canyon. He estimated floodwaters reached six feet high and 40 feet wide. The National Weather Service, which had issued a flash-flood warning, estimated up to 1.5 inches of rain fell over the area in an hour. The thunderstorm hit about 8 miles upstream along Ellison Creek, which quickly flooded the narrow canyon where the swimmers were. “They had no warning. They heard a roar, and it was on top of them,” Water Wheel Fire and Medical District Fire Chief Ron Sattelmaier said.


There were no notices or warnings at the trailhead, Alexander said. There had been thunderstorms throughout the area, but it wasn’t raining where the swimmers were at the time. While Arizona is known for its dryness, it gets bursts of heavy rains during the summer monsoon season. “I wish there was a way from keeping people from getting in there during monsoon season,” Sattelmaier said. “It happens every year. We’ve just been lucky something like this hasn’t been this tragic”. Hornung said there was no way to notify people of the flash-flood warning because cell service is limited and there are no officials stationed in the area. Visitors are reminded to be vigilant about the weather, he said. Crowds looking to beat the Phoenix metro area’s heat headed to the small creeks that flow out of the mountains forming swimming holes and a series of small waterfalls. Some barbecue along the water’s edge, while others cliff jump into the deeper pools. Farther up the canyon narrows and becomes rockier, its walls steeper. The flooding came after a severe thunderstorm pounded down on a nearby remote area that had been burned by a recent wildfire, Sattelmaier said. The “burn scar” was one of the reasons the weather service issued the flash-flood warning. “If it’s an intense burn, it creates a glaze on the surface that just repels water,” said Darren McCollum, a meteorologist. “We had some concerns. We got a lot worse news”. Sudden flooding in canyons has been deadly before. In 2015, seven people were killed in Utah’s Zion National Park when they were trapped during a flash flood while hiking in a popular canyon that was as narrow as a window in some spots and several hundred feet deep. In 1997, 11 hikers were killed near Page, Arizona, after a wall of water from a rainstorm mile upstream tore through a narrow, twisting series of corkscrew-curved walls on Navajo land known as Lower Antelope Canyon.



Syrian army sweeps across IS-held territory: Reports



DAMASCUS: Syrian government forces have swept across territory south of Islamic State group stronghold Raqa, capturing a string of villages and oilfields from the jihadists, state media said on Monday. The landscape south of Raqa city strategically borders several provinces: Aleppo to the west, Homs to the south and Deir Ezzor — much of which is still held by IS- to the east. On Monday, state news agency SANA said government loyalists had scored significant gains against IS in the area. “Over the past two days, army units recaptured a number of villages and oilfields in western parts of Deir Ezzor province and southern parts of Raqa,” the agency said. It said “dozens” of IS vehicles had been destroyed and that a number of jihadists, including foreigners, had been killed. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Monday the government advance was backed by heavy Syrian and Russian air strikes. “Regime forces have captured between 1,500 and 1,800 square kilometres in Raqa province over the past 48 hours,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.


He said troops were approaching the strategic region of Jabal al-Bishri, a mountain chain straddling parts of Raqa, Deir Ezzor and Homs provinces. “If the regime captures it, it can take control of all those areas,” Abdel Rahman said. Since 2014, Raqa city has served as the de facto capital of IS territory in Syria, and US-backed fighters are currently battling jihadists inside the city. But rival Syrian government troops have also chipped away at IS-held territory in the broader province. Last month, regime forces targeted the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces alliance west of Raqa. The Pentagon downed a Syrian jet in retaliation. More than 330,000 people have been killed since Syria’s conflict erupted in March 2011 with anti-government protests.

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