News Flash – 19 July 2019

National News



Man opens Fire to Threaten Security Guards



Chennai: A man opened fire on Wednesday night after he was not allowed to enter his sister’s apartment in Mangadu. Deepak, 31, is a resident of Thiruvananthapuram. He is said to be on anti-depressants. He had come to the city to meet his sister in Iyyapanthangal. On Wednesday, his sister refused to meet him and called the security guards, following which Deepak brandished a gun and fired in the sky. Noticing a crowd gathering, he escaped. Deepak’s sister told police that he owned an air gun.



WhatsApp Flood Alerts come to Rescue of Assam Villagers

NO HELP: A man carries gas cylinders as he wades through a flooded area in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur



Guwahati: WhatsApp, much maligned for being a tool in spreading fake news, paranoia and mass hysteria, has redeemed itself somewhat in the borderlands of India’s northeast. Villagers living along the Assam-Bhutan border now get flood alerts on WhatsApp from ‘friends’ across the border. As many as 56 big and small rivers flow into India from Bhutan via Assam. Historically, this area has been prone to flooding, the intensity of which varies every year. But most of the time, people living downstream, that is on the Indian side, find themselves amid the raging torrent as information flows slower than flood waters. The consequences are often tragic. But for a month now, a system has been in place to issue early flood warning from the Bhutanese side to those in Assam. Sample this recent alert from a Bhutanese villager to someone in India, “Hi good morning bro. Please caution your communities who are vulnerable to swollen river disaster. There is heavy flooding all over Gelephu and her peripherals (sic) ”. For someone who lives on this side of the border, this sort of a heads-up can be a lifesaver.



“Our village is on the Bhutan foothills, and every year we have a tough time when the Manas river swells. Sometimes the deluge comes in the middle of the night. But for a month now, we have been getting these WhatsApp alerts, which helps us to be better prepared,” said Udangshri Narzary of Deosiri village, which is in Chirang district of Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts (BTAD). Mahendra Brahma, a resident of Indrapur village in the same district, is also positive about it. “We forever waited for something like this. Now, we know when danger is coming. We have several WhatsApp groups where these alerts are shared,” Brahma said. This system came up after Bhutan-India Friendship Association (BIFA) teamed up with North East Research and Social Work Networking (NERSWN), an Indian NGO based in Kokrajhar, the headquarters of BTAD. “Our members constantly monitor WhatsApp. The moment we get any alert; we send it to the last villager. We have already told every border village what to do when we send an alert. We have taught them the basics: how to take their cattle to higher ground, stock up on food and water and carry enough clothes,” NERSWN executive director Raju Narzary told TOI. The alerts aren’t just textual; they come as audio-visual clippings too. And now, efforts are on to expand the reach of this WhatsApp net beyond Bodoland, right down to Bangladesh.



International News



Man Yells ‘You Die’, Burns 33 to Death in Japan Studio

An aerial view of firefighters battling the fire at the studio of Kyoto Animation on Thursday. The suspect was also injured in the attack.



Tokyo: A man screaming “You die!” burst into an animation studio in Kyoto, doused it with a flammable liquid and set it on fire Thursday, killing 33 people in an attack that shocked anime fans across Japan and beyond. Thirty-six others were injured, some of them critically, in a blaze that sent people scrambling up the stairs toward the roof in a desperate — and futile — attempt to escape. Others emerged bleeding, blackened and barefoot. The suspect was injured and taken to a hospital. Police identified him only a 41-yearold man who was not an employee. They gave no immediate details on the motive. Most of the victims were employees of Kyoto Animation, which does work on feature films and TV productions but is best known for its mega-hit stories featuring high school girls. The stories are so popular that some of the places depicted have become pilgrimage sites for fans. The blaze started in the three-story building in Japan’s ancient capital after the attacker sprayed an unidentified liquid accelerant, police and fire officials said.



Japanese media reported the fire might have been set near the front door, forcing people to find other ways out. Firefighters found 33 bodies, 20 of them on the third floor and some on the stairs to the roof, where they apparently collapsed, Kyoto fire official Kazuhiro Hayashi said. A witness who saw the attacker being approached by police told Japanese networks that the man admitted spreading gasoline and setting the fire with a lighter. She told NHK public television that the man had burns on his arms and legs and was angrily complaining that something of his had been “stolen”, possibly by the company. PM Shinzo Abe called the attack “too appalling for words” and offered condolences. Kyoto Animation, better known as KyoAni, was founded in 1981 as an animation and comic book production studio, and its hits include “Lucky Star” of 2008, “KOn!” in 2011 and “Haruhi Suzumiya” in 2009. The company does not have a major presence outside Japan, though it was hired to do secondary animation work on a 1998 “Pokemon” feature that appeared in US theaters and a “Winnie the Pooh” video.

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