News Flash – 20 April 2018

National News



Mumbai: Major fire guts hotel in Dombivli, no casualties reported


MUMBAI: A major fire broke out at a hotel near Dombivli in Mumbai gutting all the furniture on Thursday afternoon. Luckily, no one was injured in the mishap as before the fire could spread, eight people, including the customers and the staff, had escaped from hotel. The fire spread after a gas leakage on Thursday at 2.30pm in the Dombivli Darbar Hotel situated inside Shram Safalya building at Mahatma Phule Road near Dombivli station. According to the fire officer, during the fire, three customers and five staff were inside the hotel, but they managed to come out before the fire could spread. As the fire spread, a scared residents living inside the building came out. The owner of hotel Rajesh Deshmukh said, “The fire took place due to gas leakage but all are safe”.



SBI says 70% cash in ATMs, Telangana government wants more traction


HYDERABAD: A day after promising to load ATMs with currency twice daily to overcome the massive cash crunch, State Bank of India (SBI) on Thursday said it started loading ATMs in three batches and hoped to restore normalcy by next week. But, not happy with the prevailing situation, the Telangana government urged the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and bankers to ensure adequate supply of cash, so that citizens are not made to run around with empty wallets and forced to wait in long queues near the ATMs. Chief general manager, SBI, Swaminathan J in a press release said cash availability reached 70% after the loading custodians filled some of the ATMs in the evening. “Other banks are also reporting similar availability of cash in their ATMs. The situation is getting better. As far as we are concerned, our cash loading custodians loaded cash in three batches,” he said. Swaminathan said the local RBI office has also started supplying cash since Wednesday night. “We have witnessed a reduction in the number of withdrawals and people are cooperating. Hopefully, if the trend continues, the situation will ease considerably by next week,” he added.


Earlier in the day, finance minister Eatala Rajender, addressing the state-level bankers’ committee meeting, asked the banks to immediately cut the deficit running into a few thousands of crores and supply an additional ?5,400 crore towards the input subsidy scheme for farmers beginning on May 10. When Rajender pressed, bankers, however, refused to provide details of the deficit Telangana is facing. Sources said out of ?70,000 crore cash deficit across the country, as per an SBI report, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are facing a major chunk of the deficit. The minister urged the RBI to ensure adequate cash supplies to banks so that farmers and common man are not put to any inconvenience. “You (RBI) must repose confidence among people on the banking system by making adequate supplies,” Rajender said. The RBI officials promised that more supplies are expected to reach the banks in coming days. Agriculture minister Pocharam Srinivas Reddy was also present at the meeting.



Mobile medical care to help heal street dwellers

Volunteers will tend to those in need of medical care in neighbourhoods between Purasawalkam and Broadway.



CHENNAI: From the time she started her NGO in 2014, Angelin Prince has been distributing free food to homeless people. Over the years, she came across many people, especially leprosy patients, with open sores and was determined to alleviate their suffering. Last Sunday, Angelin launched ‘Wound Care On Wheels’, an initiative wherein she and her team will clean and dress the wounds of those living on the streets. “We will be taking dressing materials like betadine, gauze, gloves and approach people in need of help. We will get their permission before we do the dressing,” says Angelin, director of The Candles that works in the field of mental and physical health. “Along with a couple of colleagues, I will be visiting areas between Purusawalkam and Broadway,” she says, adding that the team will start work from Friday and will be visiting the areas twice a week, as dressing needs to be changed. The Candles runs several projects, including awareness programmes on menstrual hygiene in schools and colleges across TN. As part of their project, Amudha Surabhi, the organisation gives health mix porridge to government school children. Feeding the homeless is part of their Share with Care programme. “We distribute food thrice a month in the areas between Anna Nagar and Broadway.


We get parotta and kurma or idli’s from hotels,” says Angelin. “Or our volunteers cook vegetable or tomato rice”. And that’s when they came across people on the streets who needed medical aid. “Many of them have wounds that are not bandaged properly or are covered with dirty rags,” says Angelin. “They are hesitant to go to a government hospital as they have to wait in long queues. We did do dressing for a few people but then thought we should have a sustained programme.” Angelin, who has done a diploma in hand and leprosy physiotherapy, prefers to use the term Hansen’s disease instead of leprosy. “Stigma still exists around the word leprosy,” she says. At the moment, they will be using their own bikes to get around. “We are looking for donors who can help us with basic medical supplies or an autorickshaw for us to go around,” says Angelin. Psychologist Dr Mini Rao, who has been involved with the NGO for several years says, “Many still hesitate to interact with people with leprosy. This initiative will touch several lives”.



International News



Iraq carries out air strikes on Islamic State in Syria

The former rebel Syrian town of Douma on the outskirts of Damascus is seen on April 17, 2018 after the Syrian army declared that all anti-regime forces have left Eastern Ghouta, following a blistering two-month offensive on the rebel enclave.



BAGHDAD: (Reuters) – Iraq on Thursday carried out air strikes on Islamic State positions in Syria a week after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said his country would defend itself from militant threats across the border. Irai F-16 warplanes crossed into Syria to carry out the strikes after coordination with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, an Iraqi military spokesman said. “Carrying out air strikes on Daesh gangs in Syrian territories is because of the dangers posed by said gangs to Iraqi territories and is proof of the improved capabilities of our armed forces,” the Iraqi military said in a statement. Earlier this month, Abadi had said Iraq would “take all necessary measures if they threaten the security of Iraq”, referring to the jihadist militants who just three years ago overran a third of Iraq. The prime minister declared final victory over the ultra-hardline group in December but it still poses a threat from pockets along the border with Syria and has continued to carry out ambushes, assassinations and bombings across Iraq. Iraq currently has good relations with Iran and Russia, Assad’s main backers in the seven-year Syrian civil war, while also enjoying strong support from the US-led coalition.



No-go warning as Japan volcano erupts for first time in 250 years



TOKYO: A volcano in southern Japan erupted for the first time in 250 years on Thursday, spewing steam and ash hundreds of metres into the air, as authorities warned locals not to approach the mountain. “There is a possibility that (Mount Io) will become more active,” said Makoto Saito, an official from the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), confirming the eruption. In a televised press conference, he warned residents in the area to stay away from the mountain, part of the Mount Kirishima group of volcanoes, as major ash deposits spread from the crater. It was the first eruption of the mountain since 1768, the JMA said. The agency warned that large flying rocks could fall over a three-kilometer (two-mile) radius. The eruption threw smoke and ash 400 metres (1,300 feet) into the air. Footage captured by the JMA and local media showed thick white and grey smoke rising from several areas of the mountain. There were no immediate reports of injuries, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, adding that the government was “taking all possible measures” to prevent damage and casualties. The eruption occurred a few kilometres away from Shinmoedake, which featured in the 1967 James Bond film “You Only Live Twice” and erupted in March. Japan, with scores of active volcanoes, sits on the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire” where a large proportion of the world’s earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are recorded. In January, a Japanese soldier was killed and several other people injured after an eruption near a popular ski resort in northwest of Tokyo. On September 27, 2014, Japan suffered its deadliest eruption in almost 90 years when Mount On take, in central Nagano prefecture, burst unexpectedly to life. An estimated 63 people were killed in the shock eruption which occurred as the peak was packed with hikers out to see the region’s spectacular autumn colours.



China flies bombers around Taiwan, holds live-fire drills



BEIJING: Chinese bombers and spy planes have flown around Taiwan, the air force said today as Taipei accused Beijing of trying to stoke regional tensions with its military drills. China sees the democratically-governed island as a renegade part of its territory to be brought back into the fold and has not ruled out reunification by force. In a statement on its microblog, the Chinese air force said it had “recently” flown a patrol, which included H-6K bombers, around Taiwan. “We are confident to meet any challenge. The motherland is in our hearts, and the jeweled island is in the bosom of the motherland,” an H-6K captain, Zhai Peisong, was quoted as saying, referring to Taiwan. Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang said it served as a warning against those pushing for Taiwanese independence. Taiwan’s defence ministry said today multiple Chinese aircraft including bombers and reconnaissance planes were spotted on yesterday afternoon flying over Miyako Strait — near Japan’s southern Okinawa island — into the western Pacific before returning to their base via Bashi Channel off southern Taiwan. “China has deliberately manipulated (the exercise) to pressure and harass Taiwan in an attempt to spark tensions between the two sides and in the region,” Chiu Chui-cheng of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council told a regular briefing. “(We) will never bow down to any military threat and incentive”. Chinese combat helicopters also conducted live-fire drills with missiles off southeast China, state media said, without confirming whether the exercises took place in the sensitive Taiwan Strait.


The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) exercise took place yesterday and involved various types of helicopters that tested “all-weather operational capability of the air force at sea,” the official Xinhua news agency said. State broadcaster CCTV showed footage of helicopters firing missiles at distant objects in the water. The reports did not say exactly where the exercises took place, but they occurred on the same day that China conducted live-fire drills in the Taiwan Strait. Beijing had announced the Taiwan Strait drills last week, further ramping up tensions following stark warnings against any independence moves by the self-ruled island. Vessels had been ordered to avoid a certain area off the Chinese mainland, triggering speculation that a flotilla spearheaded by China’s sole aircraft carrier would take part in the exercise. But Taiwan’s defence ministry said yesterday that the drills only involved land-based artillery conducting “routine” shooting practice, accusing Beijing of exaggerating its plans as a form of “verbal intimidation and saber-rattling”. The drills coincided with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to Swaziland, one of Taipei’s few remaining international allies. Beijing has stepped up military patrols around Taiwan and used diplomatic pressure to isolate it internationally since Tsai took office. Beijing has also been angered by Washington’s arms sales to Taipei, and China protested last month after President Donald Trump signed a bill allowing top-level US officials to travel to Taiwan. Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China in 1979 but maintains trade relations with the island.



Over 5 lakhs still affected by Sri Lanka drought


COLOMBO: Over 500,000 people still remain affected by the drought in 10 districts of Sri Lanka, according to a report released by the Sri Lankan Disaster Management Centre (DMC) on Thursday. The DMC said the 10 districts located in the northern, northwestern and eastern provinces of Sri Lanka had been affected. The Puttalam district in the northwestern province is the worst-affected with 216,670 people suffering from the drought, Xinhua news agency reported. DMC spokesman Pradeep Kodippili said people had been affected in terms of scarcity of drinking water and crop failures. However, he said the southern, central and western parts of Sri Lanka were experiencing rain.

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