News Flash – 2 November 2018

National News



In domino effect, 5 persons drown in Kalyan’s ‘Toxic’ Well

A labourer went in to clean the well and drowned. Four others, including two firemen, who tried to save the rest, also died. Police blamed toxic fumes.



Kalyan: In a tragedy, a bid to clean up a well, supposedly polluted by chemicals flowing in a nullah by its side, on Thursday afternoon in Kalyan cost five lives—that of a labourer, two others who tried to help him, and two firemen during rescue efforts. A third fireman was admitted to hospital after inhaling chemical fumes emanating from the well. Police said prima facie, it appears all five died after inhaling toxic fumes. They are awaiting the post-mortem report to ascertain the exact cause. Residents of Lokgram in Kalyan (East) said for the last few years, filthy, chemical-laden water from an open nullah next to the well, situated on the premises of the over 100-year-old Bhima Shankar Temple owned by the Goswami family, has been seeping into the water source. Temple trustee Rahul Goswami, 28, had called in labourer Mangesh Yadav, 32, to clean the well. Yadav entered the well at 3.30pm on Thursday, but did not emerge for quite some time. Suspicious, Rahul went in to look for him and drowned. Learning about his missing son, Gunwant Goswami, 60, too, climbed in to save him, and drowned. Others present at the temple called the fire brigade which rushed a team to the spot. Two firemen ventured into the well without masks. The omission proved fatal. Fire officials blamed locals for providing them with wrong information. Sudhakar Kulkarni, fire officer of KDMC, said: “We were told the three men died as an electrical current was passing through the well from a water pump.


Believing the theory, both our firemen, who are experienced swimmers, first stopped the power connection and jumped into the well, which was filled with toxic gas.” Later, the fire brigade brought out all the five bodies from the well. A nearby factory has been releasing untreated chemicals into the water, locals claimed. The Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation has been trying to build walls along the nullah for five years now. The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board collected samples of the well water and sent these for laboratory tests. Sanjay Shinde, Thane’s deputy commissioner of police, Zone III, said, “Prima facie, it seems all five died after inhaling some gas or chemical inside the well.” Local Kolsewadi police have registered an accidental death report. Meanwhile, Shrikant Shinde, MP from Kalyan, has demanded action against those responsible for the deaths. Shinde said, “Two months ago, our local corporator had asked KDMC to complete the nullah work and ensure that the factory adjoining the nullah stops releasing chemicals into the water. They did not act on it.” Govind Bodke, commissioner of KDMC, said, “We are investigating why the nullah work was delayed… If any senior fire officials are found to have been negligent during the rescue operation, they will face action”.



Delhi air takes severe hit, worse yet to come


New Delhi: After staying in the ‘very poor’ level till Thursday evening, the capital’s air quality index (AQI) again entered the ‘severe’ zone at 409.9 by 9pm. All other NCR cities, except for Ghaziabad, also saw pollution levels in the ‘severe’ zone. In Noida and Faridabad, AQI was 407 and in Gurgaon, 427, while Ghaziabad’s air was ‘very poor’ at 377. On Tuesday, Delhi’s air quality reached ‘severe’ levels for the first time this season with AQI at 401. On Wednesday, the AQI improved slightly but was still ‘very poor’ at 358. Till 4pm on Thursday, it stayed in the same category at 393. According to System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research, though there are westerly disturbances, its impact on deteriorating air quality is expected only from Sunday. “There is moderate moisture in the air. This is likely to maximise by November 4 (Sunday), resulting in enhanced air holding capacity and faster growth in pollution levels,” a SAFAR scientist said. Surface wind speeds are calm (2.3kmph), which are not favourable for dispersion of pollutants, while the surface wind direction is southwesterly, which does not have any significant impact on pollution, he added. “Stubble intrusion impact”, he said, “is marginal with moderate wind speed (9.3kmph) with fire counts very low”.


As per the CPCB central control room data, Delhi’s average PM10 and PM2.5 levels are about four times the safe standards. While the average PM10 levels at 6pm were recorded at 424 micrograms per cubic metre, PM2.5 was 234 micrograms per cubic metre. On Wednesday, PM10 levels were 386 and PM2.5, 208. The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) will monitor the situation very closely till November 10. EPCA has already banned construction activities in the national capital region (NCR) for this period and requested people to limit exposure to foul air. Coal and biomass based industries have also been ordered to shut down from November 4 to 10. It had said because of the projected adverse weather conditions, the CPCB task force had advised it to bring in additional measures.



India sees highest no. of internet shutdowns by government authorities


Hyderabad: India topped the world with the highest number of internet shutdowns by government authorities with reportedly 121 instances to date in 2018, revealed data compiled by Delhi-based Software Freedom Law Centre’s ‘internetshutdowntracker’. Taken with ‘Freedom on The Net 2018’, also released on Thursday, where India scored 43 — down two places from its score of 41 last years — the data shows how government controls have impacted freedom on the internet. India has slipped in the ‘partially free’ category. Higher the score, lesser the freedom on the Net. So, 0 is full freedom, while 100 is no freedom. In India, governments have shut down the internet purportedly to prevent riots, incidents of hate crime, even to prevent cheating in exams. Citing instances of shutdowns, the report states: “In Tamil Nadu, a video showing a child being kidnapped went viral on WhatsApp with a warning of child kidnappers on the prowl. The video is originally an announcement against child kidnapping from Pakistan,” it stated. The report observed that while the Supreme Court judgment making privacy a fundamental right in August 2017 was a victory for internet freedom, it has been “plagued by security breaches”. The report cited researchers who exposed security lapses in Aadhaar, noting that Indian authorities are “poor custodians of citizen’s information”.



Swine Flu stings 20-40 age group, 47 fresh cases


Hyderabad: Around 70 per cent of the swine flu patients reaching hospitals in the city fall within the 20-40 age bracket, said experts. This age group is also largely responsible for the rapid spread of the disease, passing it on to family members and neighbours. According to experts, the main reason is that people from this age group are exposed more to the virus circulating in the environment as compared to children or older people. “Apart from youngsters we are also seeing many children testing positive for the virus. While the virus does not affect people of any particular age, the fact that the younger lot goes out to places where masses congregate, results in their picking up the virus and passing it on to others in the family,” said Dr K Shankar, director, Institute of Preventive Medicine (IPM), and superintendent of Fever Hospital. Going to a place where there is an epidemic without taking precautions (vaccine or wearing the N95 mask) means getting exposed to the virus. A healthy person with a good immunity too can get easily affected by the virus. “The only difference is that a healthy person’s body will put up a better fight and is less likely to end up with life threatening complications,” said an expert. The dreaded H1N1 virus is highly active currently, with at least 47 new cases being reported in the last two days alone. Of the 76 samples received by the IPM on Tuesday, 26 tested positive, while 21 of the 92 samples tested on Wednesday were found to be positive. Meanwhile, with the peak season for swine flu having begun a fortnight back, experts expect the numbers to double over the next one month.



Water tanker hits Kolkata-Doha aircraft in parking bay

The water bowser drove right underneath the plane, scraping its belly and damaging an electrical panel, causing enough damage to ground it.



Kolkata: A water bowser slammed into the belly of a Qatar Airways aircraft being readied for a Kolkata-Doha flight in the early hours of Thursday, causing enough damage to ground the plane. No one was hurt as the 103 passengers booked for the flight were yet to board the plane. The passengers would travel by an alternative aircraft expected to arrive on Friday. Air safety regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is probing the incident. Preliminary investigation indicated “possible brake failure” in the bowser, belonging to Air India subsidiary, AI Air Transport Services Ltd, which damaged the around Rs 1,100 crore Boeing B787. The incident occurred around 2.20 am, 23 minutes after the Qatar Airways flight landed in Kolkata. The flight moved to parking bay, where AIATSL staff began readying it for return journey. A bowser carrying the water, to be used in lavatories, appeared to lose control and drove right underneath the aircraft, scraping its belly and damaging an electrical panel. The accident happened while the tanker was reversing, an official said. “It even knocked down a light post. There are specific procedures that need to be followed while reversing a vehicle in the airport, but they were flouted. This is irresponsible driving,” the official said. AIATSL officials said a breath-analyser test was conducted on the driver but it was negative, ruling out possibility of drunk driving. “The driver has been suspended,” an AI official said.



Colour-coded hospital roads to guide patients

Students are drawing these colourful arrows to help patients and their kin find the departments.



Kolkata: The undergraduate students of Kolkata Medical College Hospital have come up with a colour scheme to make life less miserable for patients and their harried family members. They have started coding all stretches leading to major departments in different colours. Arrows of different colours are being painted on the roads on the hospital campus to help patients and their kin find their way easily. Various departments at the 1,800-bedded hospital like the blood bank, central laboratory, pathology lab, microbiology facility — are located in different buildings scattered across the campus. Often, the absence of signage makes life difficult for patients and their family members. “We often come across patients or their relatives wandering around, searching for departments they need to go. So we came up with the idea and help them by using colour codes. It will guide them to right places,” said Priti Goswami, a third-year MBBS student. Fours colours — red, green, yellow and white — are being used to draw arrows and stripes leading to different departments. For example, red colour will be used to point towards the central laboratory, pathology, microbiology and biochemistry departments. A red arrow every 12 metres with the names of the departments written in between will guide the patients to the right place.


“There are six gates to the hospital. The colour coding will start from each of these gates, with the guiding arrows in different colours ending at relevant departments. We believe this will be of help to patients,” said Sayantan Mukhuti, an MBBS final-year student and a member of the Medical College Democratic Students’ Association. On Thursday evening, the students got busy with their mission right after the OPD crowd left the hospital premises for the day. Armed with paint and brushes, they worked late into the night giving shape to their innovative idea. Colourful paint was used to draw arrows, which will guide patients and their kin to the blood bank, the USG facility, the main OPD building, the chest, orthopaedic and ENT OPD, the haematology clinic, cardiology department etc. The office of the medical superintendent, who is also the vice-principal, too, has been marked — in white — as relatives of patients need to approach him regularly with various grievances.



Close shave for 300 as 2 flights avert collision by 40 seconds



Kolkata: Two IndiGo planes carrying nearly 300 passengers came within 40 seconds of a mid-air collision in Bangladeshi air space on Wednesday evening before an alert air traffic controller in Kolkata spotted the impending disaster and instructed one of the pilots to take evasive action. Kolkata area control officials said a controller tracking the progress of a Chennai-Guwahati IndiGo flight was alarmed when he spotted another IndiGo flight travelling in opposite direction heading straight at each other. “The Chennai-Guwahati flight was assigned 35,000 feet by ATC Kolkata while the other (Guwahati-Kolkata) was at 36,000 feet. The controller suddenly saw the second flight starting a descent. The radar screen flashed an alarm indicating a conflict. With barely 47 seconds left for impact, the controller asked the Guwahati-bound pilot to veer sharply to the left. This averted certain disaster,” a senior ATC official said. The Airports Authority of India contacted Bangladeshi authorities and expressed concern over the incident that was a virtual repeat of what happened two years ago. Senior controllers and pilots said that such conflict situations often arose over the Bangladeshi air space because of high traffic and poor coordination.



3 industries fined Rs.1L each for breeding mosquitoes



Chennai: Three companies in Kancheepuram district were identified as breeding grounds for mosquitoes and fined Rs.1 lakh each. An official press release by the district administration said the three companies located in Keezhambhi and Thimmasamudram villages were found to be breeding spaces for mosquitoes and posed a risk of dengue infection. One of the three companies was a poultry farm that also manufactured cattle feed, the others were dairy plants. The release further warned that up to Rs.5 lakhs fine would be imposed on companies if they are found to act as breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Stern action would be initiated against such units, the statement added. The development comes after a vehicle manufacturer in the district was fined Rs.1 lakh by the directorate of public health, after officials during an inspection a few days ago found breeding of dengue-causing Aedes mosquitoes on the company’s Oragadam campus. At least four other companies in the special economic zone in Sriperumbudur were also fined up to Rs. 20,000 on October 27.



H1N1 cases up in state, every 12th sample tested turns out positive



Chennai: The number of H1N1 cases in Tamil Nadu has nearly doubled in the past week, and with the toll touching 10 since September, taking the fatalities in 2018 to 15, the health department issued treatment advisories to hospitals on Thursday. With day temperatures dipping in most parts of the state, 60 cases of H1NI were being reported daily in the past few days, against 30 cases the previous week, and eight of every 100 samples tested were turning out to be positive, officials said. Most of them were in Chennai, Kancheepuram and surrounding areas, but cases were now being reported in isolated pockets across the state. Meanwhile, the number of dengue cases has come down. The latest H1N1 fatality was K Nandakumar, 7, of Kaniyampoondi near Avinashi. The class II student died on Tuesday night at the Avinashi government hospital. Laboratory tests later confirmed he had H1N1. The Tirupur government hospital has admitted more than 120 people with fever. A special fever ward was established to accommodate them. The state health department has advised government and private hospitals to isolate people coming in with fever and symptoms of flu.



International News



Part of landing gear, one black box of Indonesian jet recovered



Jakarta: Divers have found a piece of landing gear from a crashed Lion Air jet, Indonesian authorities said on Thursday, following the discovery of a critical black box that could explain why the brand-new plane plummeted into the sea, killing 189 people. Search teams have been scouring the seabed for the fuselage of the Boeing-737 MAX 8, which plunged into the waters off Indonesia’s coast shortly after takeoff on Monday. “The good news is we have found one of the black boxes,” search and rescue agency head Muhammad Syaugi said. Authorities said a flight data recorder was recovered, but they were still looking for the cockpit voice recorder.

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