News Flash – 18 July 2018

National News



Ransomware attack, now on a Vashi Hospital


Navi Mumbai: MGM Hospital, Vashi, has come under a ransomware attack. A hacker locked data in the hospital’s computer system and sent a web link demanding ransom in bitcoins to unlock it. Just 10 days ago, a hacker had similarly stolen computer data of Hotel Three Star, Kharghar and demanded a bitcoin ransom of $400. MGM hospital’s management system coordinator Ramnath Parmeshwaram lodged a complaint with the cybercrime cell and an FIR under the IT Act’s sections 43 (penalty and compensation for damage to computer system) and 66 (computer-related offences done dishonestly or fraudulently) was registered at the Vashi police station on Monday. Hospital authorities came to know of the attack on Sunday after a receptionist switched on her computer, only to stare at a blank screen. A system administrator, who had remote access to the hospital’s network from his residence, received a message on his computer screen about a virus attack.


Soon, the hospital authorities switched off all computers that were part of its local network to arrest the spread of the virus with which the attack had been launched. But it was too late as all computer terminals by then had been infected. Administrator PK Shashankar said, “The web link sent by the hacker contained the ransom demand. But we did not open the link and hence don’t know the ransom amount demanded, except that the hacker wants bitcoins. Our technical experts are taking corrective measures and they are trying to decrypt our hacked data. As of now, the hospital’s administration is functioning smoothly and there is no financial loss”. DCP (crime) Tushar Doshi said, “Hospital staff might have clicked on a spam link sent on a suspicious email, through which the virus attack occurred. The data frozen is of 15 days”.



Pune man offers help, cons elderly citizens at ATM’s



Mumbai: A resident of Pune, who made a career out of duping elderly citizens not well-versed with the working of ATMs, was nabbed by Kurar police recently. Sagar Agarwal (32) used to pretend to assist people with cash withdrawals but would switch their debit cards with inoperative ones and use their cards subsequently at other ATMs. Agarwal, who lives at Kondhwa with his wife and son, was arrested by Malad police on July 26 last year for a similar crime. He had planned to throw his friends a birthday party and had booked space in a restaurant but cops ruined his plans. He had duped persons at kiosks in two cases at Kandivli, two at Kurar, and one each at Dindoshi, Santacruz and Pune, police said. Agarwal would stand inside kiosks with a bunch of inoperative cards, scouting for mostly elderly persons. On the pretext of assisting them in making a withdrawal, Agarwal used to make a mental note of the PIN. When the transaction ended, Agarwal used to switch the victim’s card. The victim would leave, assuming that the debit card is safe in the wallet. Agarwal would later use the victim’s debit card at other ATM kiosks to withdraw money.


In one case at Kurar, Agarwal knocked out Rs 1.4 lakh from a bus conductor’s account over three to four days. Agarwal had obtained the card of Nivrutti Sonawane (50) on June 30 when he ‘assisted’ him at an ATM. Sonawane did not check his cellphone for days together and failed to see text alerts from the bank about repeated withdrawals from his account. Before Sonawane, Agarwal had conned a woman from Kurar and had withdrawn Rs30,000 from her account in May. After Sonawane lodged a complaint, Kurar police scanned through CCTV footage of the ATM kiosk where he had met Agarwal. Based on the grabs, Agarwal’s image was obtained. He was tracked down and arrested on July 8; he is presently in judicial custody. Police have appealed to people not to take the help of strangers for making transactions at a bank or an ATM.



Matunga foot over-bridge shut after cracks develop, pedestrians demand swift repairs


Mumbai: Two weeks after the Andheri bridge crash, the BMC has been forced to shut another pedestrian bridge, this time at Matunga. Part of the Matunga (west) foot over-bridge (FOB) was closed to the public after civic officials said they noticed cracks on it. The FOB, which is connected to the railway station, has been barricaded. Ashok Khairnar, the assistant municipal commissioner of the G North ward, said the FOB was shut on Saturday. “We directed our staff and also the bridges department to inspect the structure. Till we get their report, the FOB would be kept shut,” he said. One person died and four others were injured when the pedestrian portion of an Andheri rail over-bridge collapsed onto the tracks on July 3. Luckily no train was passing by, or else the tragedy would have been immense. Very recently, on July 15, fears of the possible collapse of Khar subway, following a call from a pedestrian, resulted in suspension of services on both the Western and Harbour lines for 45 minutes. The call turned out to be a false alarm. By then many commuters had faced hardship as they were stranded on trains or platforms between Andheri and Bandra.


On Tuesday, when TOI visited the Matunga FOB site, pedestrians seemed unaware that it was shut. Bahadur Shah, 70, said, “This is commonly known as Z bridge owing to how it looks. It’s actually partly operational, though there is no notice board stating why a portion has been shut. This is inconveniencing senior citizens like me as I have to take a detour to reach the top”. Radha Ramaswami, a pedestrian, said that while shutting the bridge from a safety point of view is understandable, the authorities should undertake repairs as quickly as possible. “As of now, there are no signs of any repair crew or material. I fear the FOB might remain shut for a long time, inconveniencing the public. The authorities seem to be just shutting bridges without undertaking swift repairs”.



Several feared dead as two Greater Noida buildings collapse


UP CM YOGI ADITYANATH ORDERS PROBE: After the recent rain spell, water had accumulated in the new building’s foundation, weakening the structure.



Noida: Over 20 people were feared trapped under the rubble of two six-storeyed buildings that collapsed in Shahberi village at Noida Extension on Tuesday night around 10 pm. Some of those trapped are feared dead. UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath has ordered a probe into the incident. A resident said a six-storeyed building had come up illegally on a developer’s land in which six to seven families had been living on rent. All these people worked in local factories. Next to this building, another developer was constructing a six-storeyed building in which six to eight construction workers had been camping. Vijay Kumar, a local, said the under construction building fell on the two-year-old building and both the structures collapsed. The building fell in such a way that it became difficult to rescue occupants. Both 6-Storey Structures Illegal; One of The Buildings That Was Under Construction Fell On the Other Occupied by Residents.


After being alert by locals, police and an NDRF team reached the spot with 4-5 earthmovers. Residents said there was waterlogging in the building’s foundation that could have weakened the structure. Noida Authority officials said the buildings did not have occupation clearance. Arun Kumar Singh, SP City (Noida), said the rescue operation is going on. “It is not clear how exactly the incident took place. Both the buildings collapsed and we are trying to rescue the occupants. Some people are feared dead. But we are not clear about the total number of casualties,” he said. District Magistrate B N Singh, who also reached the accident site, said the rescue operation is going on. “Unfortunate that such unauthorised construction is allowed in villages,” CREDAI said in a statement. The site is located in a remote area and is not well-connected. The earthmovers and rescue personnel had a tough time reaching the spot. Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath ordered a probe into the incident even as rescue operations continued late into the night.



First week of DDA app: Action started in 250 cases


New Delhi: Within a week of launching a mobile application to register encroachment complaints, the Special Task Force (STF) headed by Delhi Development Authority (DDA) vice-chairman has already initiated action in over 250 cases, officials said. Following the Supreme Court directions, DDA on July 9 had launched an application — DDA 311 — through which people could click photographs of illegal constructions or encroachment on public land and submit a complaint. The application, which can be downloaded for free on both android and iOS platforms, has already initiated action in 261 cases, of which, action has already been taken in four cases, three of which were reported from DDA’s area and one from New Delhi Municipal Council. “Nodal officers from each of the agencies are responsible for stopping illegal constructions and encroachment on public land. The STF is coordinating with all these agencies and acting as a centralised platform for taking action against the complaints,” a DDA official said. “We are not only assigning complaints to respective civic agencies, but will also ensure action is taken on the ground,” he added.


The largest number of complaints, 104, has been reported from South Delhi Municipal Corporation’s area. The complainants can simply click a photograph of an illegal construction and the GPS location gets tagged with it, making it easier to locate the exact site. They can then select the jurisdiction of the respective civic agency and mark the complaint. If the complainants want, they can keep their identity a secret and will be provided a unique user ID they can use to track the status of the complaint. Those who do not have a smart phone or are hesitant to download the application can submit a complaint on the DDA website. They can upload the photograph and provide details and address of the area. DDA and the Union government had committed to the Supreme Court that a mobile application would be created, which would enable people to file complaint about illegal constructions or encroachments in their area and respective nodal officers would take immediate action.



Colombians held for burglaries were new neither to crime nor Bengaluru


Bengaluru: Five Colombians, including a woman, who were arrested by Jayanagar police recently for allegedly burgling six residences, including that of a former Karnataka bureaucrat, were new neither to the city nor crime, police said. They chose Bengaluru for their operations as they thought the city would be home to the affluent, given its global IT credentials. Police have recovered booty worth Rs 80 lakh, including 950gm of diamond articles, gold ornaments, watches and pens from the arrested Colombians — Yair Alberto alias Roger Smith alias Smith Duarte (45), Jose Edwardo alias Arevalo Burbano (40), Gustavo Adolfo alias Jaramillo Giraldo (47), Eduard Alexis alias Garcia Peramo (38) and Kinberly Jhoarya (30). Among the houses they burgled recently was that of former chief secretary Kaushik Mukherjee in HSR Layout. The gang had arrived in the city in two groups from Colombia with the purpose of burgling houses. Edwardo and Gustavo had burgled houses in southern and southeastern parts of the city in 2016. The duo was then assisted by Shami, a woman from an African country, and her boyfriend. “We suspect two of the accused were part of the Pedro gang, whose members were arrested by CCB police in 2010 for allegedly stealing diamond and gold ornaments from exhibition stalls. We need some more time to confirm their roles,” police commissioner T Suneel Kumar said.


“Google Maps came in handy for them while operating in Bengaluru,” added Kumar. Explaining their modus operandi, DCP SD Sharanappa said wearing a burqa, Kinberly Jhoarya, would knock on the doors of locked houses. “After ensuring there’s no one inside, Jhoarya would call on a wireless set. The gangsters had bought wireless sets in Mexico. Using spanners, screw drivers and cutting-players, they would break in and loot the house, while Jhoarya would keep a watch,” Sharanappa said. Barring in the Pedro gang case, the Colombians managed to keep police off their trail. The gangsters visited India frequently on tourist visas. The gang had arrived in Bengaluru in May last and purchased burglary equipment from JC Road and City Market. They bought a Chevrolet Beat and a Hyundai i10 on OLX and moved around in tony neighbourhoods of Bengaluru in search of their targets. The gangsters moved in and out of a serviced apartment in JP Nagar and a villa in Bilawaradahalli, where they paid a daily rent of Rs 1,000 and Rs 4,000, respectively. They were picked up from a Shivajinagar hotel. Cops are investigating if the gang was involved in criminal activities in other parts of the country.



Rain fury kills 175 people a year


GIANT CRASH: Trees collapsing due to rain are a common sight across Kodagu, and are a leading cause of deaths during the monsoon. Lightning is the top cause of rain-related deaths in Karnataka.



Bengaluru: With rain pummeling several parts of the state, death is not far behind. A total of 128 people were killed in rain-related incidents across Karnataka, from April 1 till July 17 this year. This means that on an average, one person is dying in the state every day because of the rain havoc. In all, 750 people (175 per year on an average) were killed in rain-related incidents in the state in the last four years and four months. The cause of death includes lightning strikes, drowning, house or tree collapse, among others. Rain deaths this year have been reported mostly from Dakshina Kannada, Ballari, Bidar and Vijayapura districts. Gangaram Baderiya, principal secretary, revenue department (disaster management), told TOI that around 70% of rain-related deaths have happened due to lightning. “Lightning strikes are difficult to predict accurately. However, in the past few years, we have been conducting awareness drives to educate people, especially farmers who work in agricultural fields, on what needs to be done to safeguard themselves in the event of lightning. For the same purpose, we floated the Sidilu mobile app, which alerts users on possible lightning strikes and their intensity. As a result of these measures, lightning related deaths are coming down gradually,” he explained.


T Narayanappa, deputy secretary of the disaster management team under the revenue department, said their team has ensured that rescue teams are placed at strategic locations to avoid cases of people getting washed away during floods. “A state-level coordination group with all deputy commissioners on board, and a related 24×7 control room have been set up to keep everybody alert. Also, compensation of Rs 4 lakh to the family of the deceased is being handed over quickly,” he added. Since 2014-15, Karnataka has seen over 3,000 cattle deaths and about 76,000 house damage cases, according to revenue department statistics. The 2017-18 financial year saw 1,168 cattle deaths, the highest so far per year. “Cattle are most vulnerable to lightning and each such death is a loss to families of farmers. We are ensuring that compensation of Rs 30,000 for the death of a cow or ox and Rs 3,000 for a hen is paid to the farmers as early as possible. For house damages, there is compensation of up to Rs 95,000 per house, depending on the damage caused to the structure,” said an official from the revenue department.



Monsoon blues grip Hyderabad: Diarrhoea preys on, residents exercise caution


Hyderabad: Monsoon is here, and so being waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea. Over the past month, the few spells of heavy rain have given rise to these monsoon maladies, putting civic guardians on an overdrive to combat the army of bacteria, viruses and fungi. Even pathological labs in the city are swamped with blood test requests for various monsoon-related diseases. Over the past month, the number of cases of acute diarrhoea in the city have risen with almost all big hospitals recording 5-10 acute cases per week. “There has been a 30% rise in such cases over the last one month, although patients have been coming in for almost two months now. We are mostly seeing cases in clusters — few people from the same locality being affected. Many of the patients coming to us are IT employees who frequent roadside food stalls,” said Dr Surendar Reddy Baradhi, gastroenterologist and therapeutic endoscopist, Maxcure hospitals. Instances of acute diarrhoea affecting entire families, or few members of the same family are also being reported. “Usually acute diarrhoeal illness rises during the start of the rainy season. Polluted and contaminated water is the source of infection.


With a spurt in number of flies during this time of the year, infections can easily spread,” added Dr Reddy. There has also been a spurt in cases of irritable bowel syndrome. “Almost every person coming in with diarrhoeal infection has had a history of dining out in the days before the infection. While most of these cases turn out to be of bacterial infections, at least 20% of these cases are diagnosed as irritable bowel syndrome. Such patients have irritable bowel syndrome, but do not notice it until the infection becomes acute, which makes them think that it may be diarrhoea and that they need treatment,” said Dr Vijay Kumar Bada, gastroenterologist, KIMS Hospitals. It’s difficult to treat such patients since they cannot be treated with antibiotics only and need extended treatment for six months to a year, apart from reduction in stress levels and lifestyle changes. Doctors, meanwhile, advise that all outside food, beverages, especially from road side stalls, should be completely avoided to stay away from bacterial infections.



Man, 26, nabs two robbers fleeing on bike with phone



Chennai: Two robbers speeding away on a motorcycle after grabbing a woman’s cellphone at Saidapet on Monday night appeared to have made a clean escape — till 26-year-old T Vigneshwaran gave chase. The Little Mount resident, a witness to the mugging, stayed doggedly on the tail of robbers Naveen and Nirmal, following them on his motorbike till he caught them in T Nagar with a little help from bystanders. Preethi, 26, a resident of Saidapet, was returning home from her workplace in Adyar when the thieves struck at 8.30pm, a police officer said. “The pillion rider tried to snatch her cellphone after Preethi alighted from a bus on Anna Salai and started walking to her house,” the officer said. “Preethi held on fast to the phone and was dragged for about 20ft. The pillion rider finally wrestled the phone from her”. When the fleeing robbers realized that Vigneshwaran was trying to apprehend them, they did their best to shake him off. “They turned one way, then the other and zipped through narrow lanes,” Vigneshwaran said. “The rider lost control and they fell when the bike skidded to a halt near the T Nagar bus depot. I nabbed one of them and some onlookers nabbed the other. We took them to the Mambalam police station”. Police said Naveen and Nirmal had been involved in many cases of chain snatching and robbery. The Mabalam police handed them over to the Saidapet police who charged them with robbery. A magistrate remanded the pair in judicial custody.



Rain fury continues unabated in Kerala, 5 dead

NO RELIEF: Many parts of Kottayam remained inundated on Tuesday.



Thiruvananthapuram: An unprecedented crisis gripped many parts of Kerala with rain continuing to unleash its fury. Several places were cut off from the rest of the state while power supply and traffic through rail and road were widely disrupted across the state. On Tuesday alone, at least five persons died in rain-related incidents, taking the toll in the last two days to 15. Around 20 houses were damaged fully and 560 houses partially while over 22,000 people have been rehabilitated in relief camps opened in 111centres. Except Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam districts, the other districts witnessed heavy rain in the last 24 hours. Coastal areas presented a deserted look with fishermen advised not to venture into sea and many families rehabilitated to relief camps. The wind blew at an alarming speed in several areas, damaging houses and crops. Ban on selfie: Kottayam collector B S Thirumeni has issued strict orders against taking selfies at flood-affected areas. He has also issued orders to the public not to visit waterlogged areas in the wake of continuing rains. It has been noticed that people were coming in large numbers to flooded areas and taking selfies, he said. Strict action would be taken against such people, he said. People should realise the seriousness of the situation, the collector has requested.



International News



In 15 years, rising seas will destroy net cables in US



New York: Underground internet cables crisscrossing coastal regions will be inundated by rising seas within the next 15 years, according to a new study. Thousands of miles of fibre optic cables are under threat in US cities like New York, Seattle and Miami, and could soon be out of action unless steps are taken to protect them. The report, presented at a meeting of internet network researchers in Montreal, is among the first to reveal the damage a changing climate will cause for the network of cables and data centres that underpins so much of modern life. What shocked computer scientist Professor Paul Barford and his colleagues most when they investigated the effect of rising tides on US cities was the speed at which the internet will be compromised. “Most of the damage that’s going to be done in the next 100 years will be done sooner than later,” said Professor Barford, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Most of this infrastructure was constructed around 25 years ago along trails running parallel with highways and coastlines, with no thought given to how geography would alter as the climate changed. In their study, presented at the Applied Networking Research Workshop, the scientists combined a comprehensive map of the internet’s physical structure with projections of sea level rise produced by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The most at-risk stretches of cable were unsurprisingly those already close to sea level, meaning the slight increases predicted for the next few years will be enough to cover them. The researchers estimated that in total more than 4,000 miles of buried fibre optic cable in the US will be submerged by 2033. Massive underwater internet cables link North America with the rest of the world. While the large transoceanic cables are completely waterproof, the buried smaller fibre optic cables are not and if they are submerged there could be far-reaching impacts not only in the coastal US but potentially around the world.





Hawaii:  lava tour boats faced tighter restrictions on Tuesday after basketball-sized ‘lava bomb’ tore a hole through the vessel’s roof (R), injuring 23 passengers. Authorities are investigating whether the vessel went too close to molten rock oozing into the Pacific Ocean from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island. The US Coast Guard now requires boat captains to stay at least 300 metres from the spot. A video posted on Facebook by a passenger aboard the boat shows the blast and the sound of screaming passengers as rocks rain down on the boat.

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