News Flash – 19 June 2018

National News



Fire brigade probes if gas leak caused blaze at Prabhadevi highrise

On June 13, a fire erupted in the duplex penthouse on the 32nd and 33rd floors of B Tower of BeauMonde Towers.



MUMBAI: Almost a week after a major fire erupted in the plush duplex penthouse at Prabhadevi’s BeauMonde Towers, it is learnt that the fire brigade is probing if a gas pipe leak caused the blaze. According to sources, the investigation team has begun recording eyewitnesses’ statements and is also inspecting the circumstantial evidence to arrive at the cause of the blaze. “We will record the statement of the house help who was present in the penthouse when the fire erupted and also the security guard. Circumstantial evidence would help in establishing which part of the house was gutted the most. This can lead to understanding where the fire could have started,” said a fire official. “We are also ascertaining the podium strength to conclude if the same was in accordance with the National Building Code”. On June 13, a fire erupted in the duplex penthouse on the 32nd and 33rd floors of B Tower of BeauMonde Towers. There was no one in the flat except the domestic help, who escaped unhurt. The flat’s owners, business couple Harish and Roopa Fabiani, are NRIs who live in Spain. Firefighting and cooling operations went on for over five hours. Two firemen were injured in the incident.



Delhi gang war: Locals thought it was terror attack, ran for cover

Police and forensic experts collect samples from the spot where criminal gangs opened fire at each other in Delhi.



NEW DELHI: Sant Nagar residents had never seen such horror before. People had just started coming out for work when bullets started to fly. Many thought it was a terror strike. “I never saw anything like that. It was just like in the movies. There was nowhere I could go and nothing I could do. I felt my end was near. I am lucky that they missed me as I was also in the line of attack,” said Mohit, a local. CCTV cameras have captured the sequence of events. While one feed showed people running helter smelter as the Scorpio went on the rampage, another showed people being shot. Police found one feed from a store near the shootout scene. In it, the Fortuner was seen speeding towards the entrance of the lane where the gym was located and the Scorpio parked. An elderly woman, who had a close shave, said she had opened the door of her shop in front of the parked Scorpio. “When one of the killers was running away, he pointed his gun at me and said ‘chal bhag buddhi’ (run away your old woman), but since he must’ve been afraid of getting shot at by members of the other gang, he spared me and ran away,” she said. The footage also showed one person running into a lane and getting shot in the thigh. Another footage was found from a shop near which the Scorpio ran over pedestrians. The clip showed one person coming out of the passenger side of the car and running into a narrow lane. The driver then got down and walked away. He had blood all over his face.



29 Malaria, 24 Dengue cases in Delhi: Report



NEW DELHI: Five fresh cases of malaria have been reported in the past week in the national capital, taking the total number of people affected by the vector-borne disease this season to 29, according to the latest municipal report released on Monday. One fresh case of dengue was also recorded in Delhi till June 16. Fourteen cases of chikungunya have also been recorded in the same period. Of the 29 cases of malaria, 17 were recorded last month, eight in June, one each in April and March and two in February. Of the 24 dengue cases, six were recorded in January, three in February, one in March, two in April and 10 last month and two in June, according to the report. The cases of vector-borne diseases are usually reported between mid-July and November-end, but this period may stretch up to mid-December. There were no cases of any vector-borne disease till January 13. Meanwhile, domestic breeding checkers have found mosquito-breeding in 33,622 households in the city till June 9, the report said. It said 39,699 legal notices have been served for various violations and “2,673 prosecutions have been initiated”. Delhi Lt Governor Anil Baijal had last month directed officials to work on spreading awareness and public sensitisation on a war footing to prevent vector-borne diseases in the city.


He had directed that crisp messages, particularly in vernacular languages, must be disseminated, besides involving school students in the awareness-generation drive. Baijal had instructed local bodies to regularly monitor the work done by the domestic breeding checkers and fix their accountability. The LG had also emphasised that top priority must be assigned by the local bodies to the areas identified by the Health department as most vulnerable to mosquito-breeding. At least 10 people died in Delhi due to dengue last year, according to the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), which tabulates data for the entire city. Five of the 10 victims were not Delhi residents, but had died in the national capital. Overall, the vector-borne disease had affected 9,271 people in the city last year. The official toll maintained by the Delhi municipal authorities till December 26 had stood at four, even though some hospitals had reported a few more deaths due to dengue. The mosquito-borne tropical disease had claimed its first victim in the city last year on August 1 when a 12-year-old boy died of dengue shock syndrome at the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital (SGRH). Three more deaths were reported in October by the SDMC. The number of malaria and chikungunya cases recorded last year stood at 1,142 and 940, respectively.



Wellington Road under CCTV vigil



SECUNDERABAD: Residents of Secunderabad Cantonment are under LMA radar, thanks to closed circuit cameras. To begin with, two CCTV cameras have been installed on the contentious Wellington Road. These cameras will cover the stretch from Parade Ground to Thapar Stadium. The LMA move is already drawing the ire of local residents. “From a security point of view, we welcome the LMA’s initiative. But, if they are meant to record morning walkers and keep an eye on locals, then we are opposing it. We are civilians and we are not going to harm anybody. LMA is setting up a barrier on Wellington Road. Is there no freedom to even walk on the road?” Trimurthy Das, a resident of Jyothi Nagar Colony, told TOI.


Some residents like P Suresh of Safilguda, however, welcomed the initiative. “The LMA’s decision on CC cameras is meant for the safety and security of defence establishments on this key stretch.,” he told TOI. Suresh is a regular commuter on the road. While one camera has been installed near Parade Ground (Stop N’ Go Bakery), the other one is at the main gate of Wellington Road. It is not clear if the LMA will install CCTVs on all the roads used by locals. Soon after the MoD issued orders to reopen all roads, LMA began imposing restrictions on morning walkers on Wellington Road leading to heated arguments between jawans and the walkers. Meanwhile, with works on the barrier having been completed, the jawans are likely to start checking vehicles and civilians using the road in the next two days.



Tamil Nadu plans second airport 100km south of Chennai


CHENNAI: The scenic East Coast Road (ECR) may emerge as the gateway to the city’s second airport, as the Tamil Nadu government is considering Cheyyur, about 100km south of Chennai, for the facility which would handle international flights. Sources told TOI that the Kancheepuram district administration has collected details of 2,000 acres in three villages of Cheyyur taluk and two hamlets in the neighbouring Madurantakam taluk for the second airport. This is the third location under consideration to decongest the city airport. Earlier, the authorities had looked at a 1,500-acre land parcel at Madurantakam and Uthiramerur, after the government dropped its plan to build an airport in Sriperumpudur. Another 1,250-acre land pocket near Gummidipoondi bordering Andhra Pradesh in Tiruvallur district is also being considered. “The list of villages include Arappedu and Ayankunnam in Cheyyur taluk and Thozhupedu of Madurantakam taluk,” said a revenue department official. The distance, however, will be a concern for flyers as it may take up to two hours to travel from city centre to Cheyyur. A revenue department official told TOI, “The field measurement book (FMB) of these villages totaling around 2,000 acres has been given to the district administration”.


FMB is an important component of land record available with revenue department, which is a sketch of demarcated borders of each survey number in a village. The identified land pocket comprises both patta and government land, sources said. Cheyyur is considered primarily for its access to two major highways— GST and ECR. The drawback would be the distance. Without a dedicated expressway, it may take up to two hours to reach the proposed airport from the city. Airports Authority of India (AAI) is considering to move international departures and arrivals to the second airport. The state government may have to either widen GST Road and ECR or provide a mass transit facility like metro rail for faster access to the proposed site. Bengaluru airport is 35km away from the city’s centre while Hyderabad airport is only 27km away from the core city. The civil aviation ministry is planning to evolve the place around the new airport into an ‘aero city’ which would be able to cater to about 40 million passengers in a year.



International News



Three dead, 200 hurt as strong earthquake jolts Japan’s Osaka


TOKYO: A powerful earthquake rocked Japan’s second city of Osaka on Monday, killing three people including a nine-year-old girl and injuring more than 200, according to an official tally. Television images showed buildings swaying and burst pipes spewing water after the quake, which struck at the height of rush hour in the city of around two million. However, there was no large-scale destruction and no tsunami warning issued after the earthquake, although commuters were stranded and tens of thousands were left without power. Among the casualties was a nine-year-old girl who died in the city of Takatsuki north of Osaka, reportedly trapped by a collapsed wall following the 5.3-magnitude quake. Local officials told AFP that the other two dead were an 80-year-old man killed by a collapsing wall and a 84-year-old man trapped under a bookcase in his home. The Fire and Disaster Management Agency said more than 200 people were injured in total. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters the government was “working united, with its first priority on saving people’s lives”. And government spokesman Yoshihide Suga cautioned there was a possibility of strong aftershocks. “Large-scale quakes are likely to happen in the next two to three days,” he told reporters. Japan sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where many of the world’s earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are recorded.


On March 11, 2011, a devastating magnitude 9.0 quake struck under the Pacific Ocean, and the resulting tsunami caused widespread damage and claimed thousands of lives. It also sent three reactors into meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant, causing Japan’s worst postwar disaster and the most serious nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986. Local residents described the moment the quake jolted the highly urbanised area at 8am, when platforms would have been heaving with passengers waiting to board their commuter trains. “The floor moved violently. It was a strong vertical jolt. Nearly all of the dishes fell and shattered on the floor,” said Kaori Iwakiri, a 50-year-old nurse in Moriguchi just north of Osaka city. “My parents suffered a blackout and they have no water. I plan to take water to them now.” Despite its relatively low magnitude, the quake caused quite a shake, registering a lower six on the Japanese experiential scale of up to seven meaning it is hard to stay standing. Eiji Shibuya, 52, said the tremor reminded him of the devastating 1995 Kobe earthquake, which killed nearly 6,500 people. “I was stunned. I couldn’t do anything,” he told AFP from Itami, a city near Osaka. “I was worried about my son as he had just left for his high school. I was relieved when I confirmed he was safe.” NHK showed footage of firefighters tackling a blaze that ripped through a home north of Osaka.


A number of train services were suspended, including the “shinkansen” bullet train, as multiple smaller aftershocks followed the quake. Some 80 flights were cancelled, according to NHK, and TV footage showed huge queues of travellers, including many foreign tourists, waiting for taxis as local train services remained suspended in large parts of the region. The Nuclear Regulation Authority said it had detected no problems at its local atomic power plants, but some companies including Honda said they had suspended operations at local plants. Kansai Electric said on its website that around 170,000 homes in the Osaka region were briefly left without power. Shunsuke Kosaka, an Osaka government official, told AFP an evacuation advisory had been issued to 12 households as it was forecast to rain in the region, possibly triggering landslides. Around 850 people were evacuated to shelters, a local government spokesman told AFP. Some 40 soldiers were deployed to areas where the water supply was damaged. Local officials also issued a warning against spreading fake news online after a tweet claiming a zebra on the loose after the quake went viral.



Libyan airstrikes target group attacking oil ports



CAIRO: Libyan forces say they have carried out airstrikes against a militia attacking key oil ports in the east. Ahmed al-Mesmari, a spokesman for the self-styled Libyan National Army, said the airstrikes late Sunday targeted fighters loyal to Ibrahim Jadhran, who are trying to seize the Ras Lanuf and el-Sidr oil terminals. Libya’s National Oil Corporation said Monday that the attack by Jadhran’s forces caused “significant” damage to at least two storage tanks and warned of further damage to oil infrastructure as well as environmental contamination. The assault on the terminals, which began Thursday, has forced the national oil firm to suspend exports and evacuate its employees. Libya slid into chaos after the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed Moammar Gadhafi, and today is largely ruled a patchwork of feuding militias.



Kremlin is relieved that no one died in Moscow taxi crash



MOSCOW: The Russian government says it’s relieved that nobody died in a weekend taxi crash in Moscow that injured two Mexican soccer fans and six other pedestrians. A taxi veered onto the sidewalk near Red Square on Saturday, striking the pedestrians. Police say the taxi driver told interrogators that he hadn’t slept for 20 hours and accelerated accidentally. The crash came as Russia is hosting the World Cup in Moscow and 10 other cities. Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters Monday that “we breathed a sigh of relief” upon learning that there were no fatalities. He wished the injured a speedy recovery. Moscow health officials declined to comment Monday on the conditions of the injured. City authorities identified the driver, who has been detained, as a 28-year-old man from Kyrgyzstan, a Central Asian post-Soviet republic. Kyrgyzstan’s Prime Minister Mukhammedkaliy Abylgaziye on Monday apologized to the victims of the crash and invited them to come to his country for treatment and recovery, the Russian state news agency RIA-Novosti reported.


“What happened should not become a cause for persecution and abuse of our citizens working in Russia. This was an accident,” Abylgaziye was quoted as saying by RIA-Novosti. But a Russian politician has suggested that the incident looks more like a terror attack. Evgeny Roisman, the former mayor of Yekaterinburg, one the World Cup host cities, said Sunday on Twitter that he watched the video carefully and concluded that the driver intentionally veered in the direction of pedestrians. “A lot of versions: he feels asleep, he was drunk, he confused the pedals. Make your pick,” Roisman tweeted. “I believe it was a terrorist act”. He offered no details to back up his claim. Moscow police said Saturday that they were investigating the taxi crash as a traffic accident and told The Associated Press on Monday that focus has not changed.

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