News Flash – 19 May 2018

National News



Landing aid off, Mumbai airport sees nearly 600 flights delayed



MUMBAI: With a key navigation aid switched off for upgrade, the city airport witnessed severe air traffic congestion leading to an average 45 to 60-minute delays in arrivals and departures on Friday. Close to 230 arrivals and 350 departures were delayed, according to flightradar24, a flight tracking app. The Instrument Landing System (ILS), a life-saver for congested airports, will not be available on runway 27 till June 5 as new and better equipment is being installed. “With no ILS, the separation between aircraft approaching to land is now up from 10km to about 12km. Each aircraft takes longer to carry out an approach, touch down and vacate the runway. As the day progresses, the airspace gets more and more congested,” said a senior air traffic controller. A senior airline commander said: “Normally, we are instructed to carry out 1-2 holds (the circling above a city) over Mumbai when coming in to land. On Friday evening, most pilots had to carry out 4-5 holds”. One holding pattern is completed in about six minutes. “Most flights to Mumbai would have flown in with extra fuel to avoid a diversion,” he added. Passengers scheduled to travel into or out of the city this month, especially those booked on morning and evening peak-hour flights, could expect similar delays.


With the ILS on the main runway switched off from Thursday, delays had begun from last night itself. Weather woes added to it in the morning as strong winds whipped runway 27, forcing flight operations to be moved to secondary runway 14 between 9.53am and 11.40am, said a Mumbai International Airport Pvt Ltd spokesperson. Though the ILS on runway 14 was operational, it isn’t as efficient as runway 27 as it has a poor taxiway network and so landing aircraft take longer to vacate the runway post touchdown. Also, the day saw a lot of charter movement, which tends to slow down air traffic. “One flight was cancelled. There were no flight diversions,” said a Mumbai airport spokesperson. Among the passengers who were the most hit were those on Mumbai-Dubai Air India Express flight IX 247. The 1pm departure was moved to 2pm, and then at 2.15pm, after the passengers boarded the aircraft it stood on tarmac till about 7.30pm. “First, they cited air traffic congestion and then there was an engineering problem. It was unbearably hot and humid inside the aircraft. We requested the crew to deplane us, but they were rude,’’ said Brian Miranda, one of the 180 passengers on board. An Air India Express spokesperson said passengers were not allowed to de-board as it would have taken time to board them again. “We were trying to solve the engineering problem as fast as possible. Then 10 passengers said they didn’t want to fly and so we had to take their bags out,’’ the official said.


Unlike most major airports where flight operations are carried out simultaneously on parallel runways, Mumbai operates out of a single runway. “If Mumbai had parallel runways, then they could have moved the departures on the runway with no ILS. This then is a unique situation as hardly any major airports the world over would be handling over 400 arrivals in a day without the aid of ILS,’’ said a commander. A source said: “Efforts are on to finish the installation and calibration by June 2”. With no ILS on runway 27, aircraft doing an approach to land have to slow down earlier. “When ILS is operational, landing flaps and gears need to be lowered only when the aircraft is down to 2,000-1,500 ft,’’ said a senior airline commander. But without an ILS, when what’s called a VOR/DME or non-precision approach is carried out, the aircraft should be configured for landing with flaps and gears down by as early as 2,600-3,000 ft. The aircraft speed needs to be reduced before flaps and landing gear are lowered. For instance, an A320 aircraft carrying out an approach to land on runway 27 will need to reduce its speed from about 300kmph to 240kmph when it is about 2,600ft to touch down. “When the speed is reduced, the distance between two aircraft on approach to land increases,’’ said the commander. In a non-precision approach, the pilot looks out for the runway and should spot it to continue descend below 1,070ft.



Fire at Rohini Mall from short circuit



NEW DELHI: A fire broke out on the third floor of a mall in Rohini Sector 9 on Wednesday night. Fire department officers said that they were informed at 11.45pm and nine fire tenders were sent to the spot. The blazes were brought under control after an hour and no casualties were reported. A preliminary probe has revealed that the fire started due to a short circuit in the electrical system of a restaurant, which also has a bar license. Cops said that the place was vacant at the time of the incident that saved it from turning into a bigger tragedy.



Metro services disrupted in Hyderabad due to heavy winds, poor visibility

There was a minor disruption in metro rail services on the Miyapur-Nagole corridor due to the poor visibility and high speed winds recorded after rains hit the city, on Thursday.



HYDERABAD: There was a minor disruption in metro rail services on the Miyapur-Nagole corridor due to the poor visibility and high speed winds recorded after rains hit the city, on Thursday. Services were put on hold for close to 50 minutes, starting from 16:30 pm, to ensure safety of commuters. According to L&T Metro Rail (Hyderabad) Limited (LTMRHL) officials, normal services resumed from 17:20 pm. Officials pointed out due to the poor visibility and high wind speeds, trains were running ‘slightly slower’ than the normal speed and it took close to 40 minutes for this to be ‘set right’. “Due to high wind speed up to 72 kmph and poor visibility there was a minor disruption in metro services from 1630 hrs. to 1720 hrs. to ensure safety of commuters. We regret the inconvenience and normal services have resumed from 1720 hours,” tweeted LTMRHL officials, on Thursday evening. Earlier this month, metro rail services on the Nagole-Ameerpet stretch were briefly disrupted after an advertisement flex fell on the overhead equipment of the metro rail, due to the strong winds that hit the city.



Another double squall hits Kolkata, speed touches 92kmph, mercury dips by 7 degrees Celsius


KOLKATA: Two squalls in a span of 30 minutes accompanied by thunder, lightning and rain lashed Kolkata on Friday afternoon, uprooting trees and disrupting traffic movement. The mercury plunged to 25.5°C from 32.5°C right after the thundershower. The Met office expects similar conditions through next week, which might arrest the mercury from rising. Eight persons were injured and one person died in various accidents in Kolkata and Howrah that resulted from the storm. The first squall struck at 3.30pm at 56kmph. When it had started to slow down, the second one hit at 4pm at 92kmph, uprooting trees, electric poles and snapping cable wires. The highest rainfall was recorded in Dhapa — 38.6mm in about than an hour. “This was the second strongest squall this year — the strongest blew through the city at 98kmph on April 17. Thundercloud cells had formed over Nadia and North 24 Parganas before the cloud column that measured about 15km inched towards the city triggering the thunders squall,” said G K Das director (weather) at Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC), Kolkata. “The heating is already present, along with enough moisture in the air. Hence, conditions are conducive to more thundershower activities in the coming days. However, chances are low particularly on Saturday,” added Das. A tree fell on a car carrying 71-year-old Niranjan Nayak near Ganesh Talkies. He was trapped inside till the Disaster Management Group (DMG) rescued him. Nayak was admitted in Calcutta Medical College and Hospital with a leg injury.


Pedestrian Koushik Singha, 25, was wounded in the leg and head outside Victoria Memorial when a branch fell on him. He was taken to SSKM Hospital. At Sakher Bazar, Souvik Saha, 29, was hit by a falling traffic signal post and was admitted to a private hospital with hand and leg injuries. In Howrah’s Shyampur, Rabin Das, 48, died when a mango tree was uprooted and fell on his motorcycle. On Nidhiram Majhi Lane, a three-storey building collapsed, injuring four persons — two of them critically. At Mandirtala, a brick from an under-construction building fell on the head of 52-yearold Shyamal Sarkar. He was admitted to a private hospital in Kolkata. Several pockets in Kolkata were waterlogged and traffic movement was disrupted in places where uprooted trees blocked the road. The squall did not spare the state secretariat at Nabanna either. Several of the fibre sheets covering the portico in front of the VIP gate were blown away by the storm. Chief minister Mamata Banerjee was then in her room on the 14th floor. She asked the disaster management team to find out if any houses had collapsed. Professor Krishnendu Majhi of Goenka College who was returning home to Howrah via the Vidyasagar Setu said the state bus he was in had to be stopped at the middle of the bridge due to the storm. “The roof vent of the bus was blown off by the storm,” he said.



Get safety license within 2 weeks: Chennai collector to shopping malls



CHENNAI: The Chennai district administration has ordered shopping malls operating in the city to apply for license under the Tamil Nadu Public Buildings(licensing) Act to enhance safety. Failure to obtain the mandatory licence would put the shopping malls under a cloud evoking penal action. During a review meeting on the license for public buildings, district collector V Anbuselvan told the representatives of shopping malls and cinema halls to apply for the license within the next two weeks to ensure that these places adhere to the safety norms. “Owners of public buildings including schools and colleges must get the license. However, several shopping malls are ignorant about the act,” an official said. Henceforth, we have asked them to apply for the license, the official added. As per the act, no existing structure should be used as a public building without a licence. Apart from schools and colleges, hostel, libraries, clubs, lodging house, boarding house, hotels and buildings used for organising public meetings, marriages and parties also fall under the ambit of public buildings according to the Tamil Nadu Public Buildings (licensing) Act, 1965. While applying for the license, a certificate on the structural stability provided by an engineer should be attached.



Heat and dust torment Ahmedabad


AHMEDABAD: Extreme heat conditions sweeping across the state raised maximum temperature to 43.8°C in Ahmedabad on Friday, and on Thursday night killed an eight-year-old girl from Dhrangadhra town of Surendranagar district. The girl succumbed to heatstroke at a private hospital in Botad town. The victim, Dharmi Sheth, had fallen sick with severe dehydration after which she was admitted to the private hospital. On Thursday night, her condition deteriorated, said a health officer from Dhrangadhra. On Friday, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) warned of “heatwave conditions for Saturday” as well. Kandla airport and Kandla port in Kutch were the hottest places in the state where maximum temperatures touched 44.9°C and 44.6°C respectively. Maximum temperature on Friday rose above 42°C in 11 of the 23 places being monitored by the Met office. In Ahmedabad, maximum temperature was 1.9° above normal. Minimum temperature of the city was 28.3°C, 1.2° above normal. Relative humidity ranged between 62% and 27% on Friday. On Friday afternoon, strong winds and a light dust-storm hit the city, affecting traffic. The evening was partly cloudy and dusty. According to weather officials, the wind speed was 20-25 kmph in Ahmedabad and in some parts of North Gujarat. Dust storm may occur in some places of the state on Saturday as well. IMD said that maximum temperature may hover around 41°C and 45°C over North Gujarat and in parts of South Gujarat, Saurashtra, and Kutch over the next two days. Ahmedabad city will not get any respite from heat as maximum temperature will hover around 44°C on Saturday.






Ahmedabad: Avoid making any outdoor plans for the weekend. According to the India Meteorological Department, temperature is expected to remain high for next three days. With Ahmedabad recording its highest maximum temperature of this season with 44.3 degree Celsius on Thursday, orange alert has been issued for the district. The minimum temperature during the day was 27.9 degree Celsius. Kandla Airport was the hottest in the state for the second consecutive day with 45.2 degree Celsius, followed by Amreli with 44.7 degrees. Temperature in Gandhinagar was 43 degrees. Over 12 regions in the state recorded above 40 degree Celsius temperature on Thursday. IMD has also issued heat wave alert for the next two days in parts of Saurashtra-Kutch. On Thursday, 124 cases of abdominal pain, 99 of unconsciousness, 41of fainting and 49 cases of vomiting were registered by 108 services across the state. The total number of heat related emergencies was 501, of which Ahmedabad alone registered 124, highest among the four major cities. While IMD has issued an advisory to five states and a Union Territory over cyclonic storm ‘Sagar’ which is building up near Yemen, it has ruled out any significant threat to Gujarat. Manorama Mohanty, scientist at IMD Ahmedabad, said, “Cyclonic storm Sagar currently over the Gulf of Aden in the Arabian Sea is going far away and will have no impact on Gujarat”. Mohanty clarified that the cyclone would not bring the state any respite from heat. “Temperature, especially in North Gujarat region, will remain between 41and 44 degree, while that in Ahmedabad will be between 42 and 44. Orange alert has already been issued. For next three days, temperature will remain in this range”.



Cross-border fire claims lives of 8 civilians in India and Pakistan



In a steep escalation of tension between India and Pakistan on Friday, just a day ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir, five Indians, including a BSF jawan, and seven Pakistanis were killed on both sides of the international border. While four civilians and a BSF jawan were killed and 12 others injured in Pakistani mortar shelling on villages in R S Pura and Arnia sectors along the border in Jammu region, four Pakistanis were killed in retaliatory fire on Friday. Separately, three Pakistani infiltrators were killed by Indian security forces in north Kashmir, two days after the Centre’s unilateral ceasefire against terrorists in Kashmir for Ramzan came into effect. BSF inspector general of Jammu frontier, Ram Avtar, said the situation along the border is “tense” and his troops caused heavy damage to Pakistan in retaliation. “Pakistan targeting civilians is not new but we are prepared and giving them a strong, befitting and appropriate response,” Avtar told media on the sidelines of a wreath-laying ceremony for BSF constable Sita Ram Upadhyay, who was killed in Arnia sector in Pakistani shelling. The Pakistan army’s media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), claimed that four people, including three children, were killed while 10 others injured in “unprovoked ceasefire violations” by India in Pukhlian, Cahprar, Harpal, Charwah and Shakargarh sectors on their side. However, BSF sources said Pakistani Rangers resorted to heavy firing and mortar shelling in civilian areas of Arnia, R S Pura and Bishnah sectors of Jammu district around 1am on Friday. “More than 15 border outposts and an equal number of villages are affected by the shelling, sources said. “The BSF troops guarding the border retaliated and the exchange of fire is still on,” an official said.



International News



More than 100 killed in passenger plane crash in Cuba


HAVANA: More than 100 people were killed in a fiery crash of a Boeing 737 passenger plane in Cuba on Friday, Cuban broadcaster Cuba TV reported. There were three seriously injured survivors among the 114 passengers and crew, Cuban president Miguel Diaz-Canel said. The aircraft, on a domestic flight to Holguin in eastern Cuba, crashed shortly after taking off from Havana, Cuban state-run media reported. There were 105 passengers, including five children, and nine crew members. The fire from the crash had been put out and authorities were identifying bodies, President Diaz-Canel said, adding that authorities were investigating the cause of the crash. Wreckage was strewn over the area 20 km (12 miles) south of Havana, a Reuters witness said, and blackened parts of the fuselage were visible. “We heard an explosion and then saw a big cloud of smoke go up,” said Gilberto Menendez, who runs a restaurant near the crash site in the agricultural area of Boyeros. Carlos Alberto Martinez, the director of Havana’s Calixto Garcia hospital, told Reuters that four victims of the accident had been brought there. One had died and three others, all women, were in a serious condition, he said. “She is alive but very burnt and swollen,” said a distressed relative of one of the survivors at the hospital. The flight was leased by airline Cubana from a small Mexican airline called Damojh or Global, Cuban state media said. Holguin has some of the island’s most pristine beaches, and attracts tourists. Cubana declined to comment. A Damojh representative in Mexico said, “we are gathering what we can to give correct information”. The nationality of those on board was not immediately clear. State media said that the crew were foreign, but provided no further details.


Flight tracking websites indicated the flight was CU972, departing Havana at 11 a.m. (1500 GMT). The Mexican government said on its website that the plane was a Boeing 737-201 built in 1979, making it around 39 years old. Boeing Co said in a Twitter post: “We are aware of news reports out of Cuba and are closely monitoring the situation”. Boeing 737 aircraft use engines made by CFM International, the supplier of the world’s most-used engines, built by a joint venture of GE and France’s Safran. On Thursday, Cuba’s First Vice President Salvador Valdés Mesa had met with Cubana bosses to discuss public complaints about its service, according to state-run media. Problems included the cancellation of numerous domestic flights this year, and long delays which the company said were caused by technical problems with its aircraft. Earlier this month, the company was ordered to suspend flights by its six Russian built AN-158 aircraft, of which most had reportedly already been grounded. The last fatal crash in Cuba was in 2017, the Aviation Safety Network said. It was a military flight that killed all eight personnel aboard. In 2010, a commercial Aero Caribbean plane crashed in central Cuba. All 68 people on board were killed. The latest available information on Cuba from U.N. safety aviation agency ICAO, dating back to 2008, ranks it above the global average – though that preceded the latest three crashes.



At least 10 killed in Texas high school shooting, Sheriff says


SANTA FE (TEXAS): At least one gunman opened fire at a Houston-area high school Friday, killing eight to 10 people, most of them students, authorities said. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said he could not be precise about the number of deaths at Santa Fe High School, which went on lockdown around 8am. Two suspects believed to be students were in custody. It was the nation’s deadliest school shooting since the February attack in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and re-energized the gun-control movement after surviving teens launched a campaign for reform. The school district confirmed an unspecified number of injuries but said it would not immediately release further details. A school police officer was being treated at a hospital, the sheriff said, but there was no immediate word on the extent of his injuries. “We hope the worst is over, and I really can’t say any more about that because it would be pure speculation,” Assistant Principal Cris Richardson told reporters at the scene. Aerial footage showed students standing in a grassy field and three medical helicopters landing at the school in Santa Fe, a city of about 13,000 residents roughly 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of Houston. School officials said law enforcement officers were working to secure the building and move students to another location. Students were being transported to another location to reunite with their parents.


One student told Houston television station KTRK in a telephone interview that a gunman came into her first-period art class and started shooting. The student said she saw one girl with blood on her leg as the class evacuated the room. “We thought it was a fire drill at first but really, the teacher said, ‘Start running’,” the student told the television station. The student said she did not get a good look at the shooter because she was running away. She said students escaped through a door at the back of the classroom. Authorities did not immediately confirm that report. The US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said it was responding to the shooting. In the aftermath of the Feb. 14 attack on Marjory Stone man Douglas High School, survivors pulled all-nighters, petitioned city councils and state lawmakers, and organized protests in a grass-roots movement. Within weeks, state lawmakers adopted changes, including new weapons restrictions. The move cemented the gun-friendly state’s break with the National Rifle Association. The NRA fought back with a lawsuit. In late March, the teens spearheaded one of the largest student protest marches since Vietnam in Washington and inspired hundreds of other marches from California to Japan.



Two buses collide in Lincoln Tunnel, injuring at least 32



NEW YORK: Fire officials say two buses have collided in the Lincoln Tunnel, injuring at least 32 people. FDNY says the accident happened around 10 am in the center tube of the tunnel between two New Jersey Transit buses and that most of the injuries were minor. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which manages the tunnel, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Lincoln Tunnel connects New York City with New Jersey and is located on Manhattan’s West Side. Traffic is delayed as officials investigate.

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