News Flash – 2 June 2017

National News



Strong tremors felt in Delhi-NCR; epicentre in Haryana



NEW DELHI: Strong tremors woke many in Delhi, and adjoining areas of the National Capital Region (NCR), with a rude jolt on Friday morning. The tremors, which lasted for about one minute, shook Delhi and neighbouring areas in the National Capital Region around 4:25am. The US Geological Survey reported that the quake measured 4.9 on the Richter scale. The epicentre of the earthquake was in Gohana, Haryana. There was no immediate loss of life and property reported from anywhere.



Monsoon likely to hit Mumbai by next weekend, but light rain expected


MUMBAI: Monsoon could hit Mumbai by the next weekend as the IMD expects a near-normal arrival of the season in the city. Monsoon usually hits Mumbai on June 10. South-west monsoon hit Kerala on May 30–two days before its normal onset date of June1. Mumbaikars are therefore hopeful of its early arrival in the city too. The city has been witnessing pre-monsoon showers since the past few days which, the IMD has forecast, are likely to continue. Pre-monsoon showers were first experienced on May 12 in parts of Mumbai and Navi Mumbai and have continued since then. KS Hosalikar, deputy director general, western region, tor-general, western region, IMD, said, “We expect a near normal onset of monsoon in Mumbai. Pre-monsoon showers are expected over the next few days due to strong westerly winds,” he said.

On Thursday, IMD’s Colaba and Santacruz observatories recorded no rainfall. But it has forecast light showers in the next 24 hours. Meanwhile, humidity levels continued to be high. The relative humidity recorded by the IMD’s Colaba observatory was 83% on Thursday while the Santacruz observatory recorded 73%. Maximum temperatures hovered around 35 degree Celsius. “Conditions continue to remain favourable for further advance of the south-west monsoon into remaining parts of south Arabian Sea, some parts of central Arabian Sea, Karnataka, parts of Tamil Nadu, the Bay of Bengal and some parts of the north-eastern states during the next two to three days,” stated the IMD forecast. Last year, monsoon had missed its normal onset date of June 10 with Mumbai and reached the city 10 days late.



Fireman dies in rescue operation, 2 hurt



NEW DELHI: A 52-year-old fireman was killed and two of his colleagues were severely injured while trying to rescue a labourer from a fire at a factory in central Delhi’s Anand Parbat on Wednesday night. Trapped under a heated tin shed, the firemen were severely burnt after a part of the building collapsed as a cylinder kept at the factory exploded. Chief fire officer Atul Garg said that the department received a call at 11.10pm about a fire at a factory in lane number 8 of Anand Parbat. The first and second floor of the factory, constructed on a 275 square metre plot, consisted of concrete constructions, while the other two floors were temporary ones with tin sheds covering the walls. Fire officials suspect that the owner did not have permission to construct the additional floors. Eleven fire tenders were pressed into service to control the flames. Factory supervisor Ravi Shankar said that some of the labourers were asked to stay back at the shed to help in construction work, even as the production work ended at 8.30pm. “While they were clearing debris from one of the floors they noticed sparks from an electrical line and informed the fire department and the police,” said Ravi Shankar.

By the time the fire engines reached the spot the fire had spread throughout the building. “It took almost 45 minutes for the fire engines to reach the spot. Almost all the roads were blocked by raw materials dumped outside factories and cars parked haphazardly,” said fire in charge Sanjay Tomar. Firemen Bijender and Sunil Kumar along with Officer Avtar Singh climbed through one of the windows on the third floor and were trying to rescue Dhananjay and Pandit when the cylinder kept in the room exploded. Officers said that the tin shed and floor of the third floor collapsed together trapping the victims in between. The heated tin hit Bijender and Singh on their heads, while the others were stuck in the concrete. Other firemen rescued the trapped persons and rushed them to a private hospital. Bijender and Avtar were later shifted to Ganga Ram hospital, where Bijender succumbed on Thursday afternoon. Avtar is still admitted to ICU. Others were discharged after treatment on Thursday, police said. A case under section 304 (A) (causing death due to negligence) has been registered against the factory owner. Bijender was posted with the Prasad Nagar fire station since 1996. He stayed at Sant Nagar in Burari with his wife and four children.



Youth jumps off train, nabs thief after 1km chase



Kalyan: A 22-year-old Pune youth jumped from a running long-distance train near Kalyan Station and nabbed a cell phone thief after chasing him for a kilometre with the help of two locals on Thursday morning. Kalyan GRP said Samadhan Mistry was reading messages on his phone near the door when the accused took it from outside with a stick. Mistry, who works in a private company, had gone to Bhusaval and was returning to Pune. The spot near Patripul Bridge, where trains slow down due to signals, is notorious for mobile and bag-lifting. GRP officials said at 7.30am the train reached near Patripul and slowed down, when Ayan Shaikh (21) used the stick to hit Mistry’s hand and took his phone after it fell down.

Mistry jumped from the train and chased Shaikh up to Shree Krishna Nagar in Kalyan (E), where after he raised an alarm, Sanjay Chaudhari and another person nabbed the accused despite him threatening to attack them with a stone. GRP officials appreciated the three for helping them nab the culprit. Inspector Manik Sathe, Kalyan GRP, said, “Mistry did a good job and after arresting Shaikh, to avoid hurdles in his journey, we handed him his phone and arrested the accused.” GRP officials said a primary probe showed that Shaikh had been caught in such a case for the first time, but they are probing if he has committed similar crimes earlier.



Kashi takes on Zika, Ahmedabad still sleeps



AHMEDABAD: As you read this, there are some 90,746 expectant mothers in Ahmedabad, most of them poor and living in slums, chawls and low income localities of the city which are the most vulnerable to the deadly Zika virus transmitted by the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito. None of these healthy mothers want a baby with microcephaly. There are also some 99,746 children were born in these areas, between six and seven months old, who are vulnerable to Zika. Many of these 91,000 mothers-to-be are not even aware of the effects of the Zika virus. The city of Varanasi on Wednesday began a wide-scale public information campaign about Zika. A lot of time has passed since November 14, 2016, when the state government discovered a Zika virus infection in an expectant mother in Bapunagar, but did not go public with it. In 2016, the Aedes aegypti mosquito was responsible for a massive spike in dengue and chikungunya cases.

Areas which have witnessed the most dengue and chikungunya cases have the most expectant mothers. For instance, Behrampura, which registered the maximum number of dengue cases, has 1,510 expectant mothers while Kubernagar has 977 expectant mothers. Bapunagar, the site of two Zika virus infections between November 2016 and February 2017, has the maximum number of expectant mothers, 1,600. The SP Stadium ward, which had one pregnant woman contracting Zika, has 1,044 expectant mothers. Six months later, with two more Zika infection cases in January and February 2017, the government is yet print and disseminate handbooks or put up hoardings in Gujarati or even ask local ‘ASHA’ health workers to educate pregnant women in these areas about the disease and its effects. Most of this material has just been uploaded to the Gujarat health ministry website, which hardly any such women access. “Our anti-vector activities are on in full swing across Gujarat. We have already issued an advisory to the Gujarat chapter of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) a few days ago. Most of our advisories in Gujarati related to Zika virus have been uploaded on the website,” says state health commissioner J P Gupta.



International News



Afghanistan blames Haqqani network, ISI for Kabul blast


KABUL/ISLAMABAD: The Afghan intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), said on Thursday that early findings showed the Haqqani network with the assistance of Pakistan’s ISI carried out the attack in Kabul that killed at least 90 people. “These terrorists once again proved they don’t represent any religion and they only carry out such coward attacks to please their Pakistani masters which is against all Islamic and human rights principals,” the NDS said in a statement on Thursday. The Haqqani network has carried out a number of kidnappings and attacks against US interests in Afghanistan. The group is also blamed for several deadly attacks against Indian interests in Afghanistan, including the 2008 bombing of the Indian mission in Kabul that killed 58 people.

Afghanistan cancels Pakistan games after Kabul attack: Afghanistan also cancelled proposed home and away cricket fixtures with Pakistan after the Kabul bombing. Pakistan were set to play their first Twenty20 match in Kabul later this year in what was seen as an opportunity for the neighbours to ease tensions over border skirmishes and alleged proxy warfare. The Kabul match, set for July or August, would have been followed by a fixture in Pakistan and a full series at an unspecified date. But the Afghanistan Cricket Board issued a strongly worded statement late on Wednesday, cancelling the matches in light of a truck bombing in the city’s diplomatic quarter that killed at least 90 people. No group has claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s attack, although the Taliban has denied involvement. “The ACB hereby cancel all kinds of cricket matches and initial mutual relationship agreement with the Pakistan Cricket Board,” the Afghan board said on its Facebook page. “No agreement of friendly matches and mutual relationship agreement is possible with a country where terrorists are housed and provided safe havens”. The development leaves Pakistan’s cricketers even more isolated in the region.

Pakistan rejects Afghan allegations: Pakistan, however, strongly rejected as “baseless” the Afghan allegations that ISI was in any way involved in the Kabul attack. “The accusatory approach is unhelpful towards efforts to peace,” Pakistan’s Foreign Office (FO) spokesman Nafees Zakaria said during the weekly media briefing on Thursday. Zakaria said Pakistan suffered due to terrorism and has the highest stakes in Afghan peace and stability. “Our commitment to peace in Afghanistan is based on sincerity and is beyond any doubt,” he added. Zakaria said that it was highly disappointing that certain elements in Afghanistan were damaging relations between the two neighbours.



Syria activists say founder of IS’ news agency killed in airstrike



BEIRUT: The founder of the Islamic State group news agency was reportedly killed with his daughter in an airstrike last week in eastern Syria, Syrian activists said Thursday. The militant group itself has not reported the death of the founder of Aamaq news agency, Baraa Kadek. Activists said Kadek was close to the IS leadership, gaining their trust and reportedly meeting with the enigmatic leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. His brother, Hozaifa, and former friends reported his death, saying he died in suspected airstrike by the U.S.-led international coalition against IS that hit his home in Mayadeen town in Deir el-Zour province. The brother posted the announcement on his Facebook page. A former colleague of Kadek said he and his daughter and wife were injured in an airstrike last Friday but that he died of his wounds Wednesday. Mohammed Khaled, executive manager of Aleppo 24, an activist-operated media platform and a former friend of Kadek, said his wife remains in critical condition. There was no immediate comment from the coalition. Last week, the coalition told The Associated Press it had carried out a series of airstrikes on May 25 and 26 targeting IS media infrastructure and “propaganda facilities”. It said at the time that targeting such facilities “degrades” the group’s capabilities and its tools to inspire attacks on foreign lands.

At the time, activists said the coalition airstrikes killed at least 35 civilians, including family members of IS. Mayadeen has become a refuge for IS leaders as the group comes under attack in Mosul in Iraq and their de-facto capital Raqqa in Syria. Some Syria watchers said the group’s media operations have moved to Mayadeen as the coalition and allied Syrian Kurdish-led forces close in on Raqqa. Khaled said Kadek became close and trusted by the leadership of IS after he supported their presence in Aleppo city in 2013. The militants later clashed with other rebel factions, who chased them out of the city. Khaled said Kadek met with al-Baghdadi in 2014 in Iraq during an introduction to the Aamaq network. “He even bragged in one of his posts about being `honored’ by a meeting with al-Baghdadi,” Khaled said, speaking from Syria. Kadek was also a friend of Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, IS’s powerful spokesman who was killed in an airstrike in Aleppo in September 2016.

Aamaq news agency_ which surfaced in 2014_has become the group’s fastest and most reliable source of information. The militants have used it to post news, videos and claims of their attacks worldwide. It has remained online despite bans from social media platforms. The group has other media outlets, including a daily recorded news bulletin and a weekly magazine. Kadek was first known for his support of the moderate opposition and rebel groups, founding a media platform to cover their news. Khaled said Kadek’s transformation was remarkable and came as funds dried up for the network he founded in the early days of the revolt against Syria’s government. Originally from Aleppo province, he later joined IS in 2013, covered their activities in Aleppo and later moved on to found the group’s flagship media arm.

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