News Flash – 21 December 2017

National News



Metro crash: DMRC suspends four officials, says trains safe


NEW DELHI: DMRC on Wednesday suspended four officials in connection with Tuesday’s crash in which a ‘driverless’ train first went through the Kalindi Kunj metro depot’s wall and then its boundary wall. Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) reiterated that the incident was caused by a human error. The crash had nothing to do with the new signaling technology — communication-based train control (CBTC) that Delhi Metro is using for the first time — as the train was being operated manually for maintenance, it said. DMRC has also decided to go ahead with the inauguration of the Kalkaji Mandir-Botanical Garden stretch on December 25 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The suspended officials are a deputy general manager who was the depot in-charge, an assistant manager under him responsible for depot activity, a junior engineer and an assistant section engineer involved in operating the train, said Anuj Dayal, executive director (corporate communications), DMRC. The orders have been approved by DMRC managing director Mangu Singh.


The suspension is based on an inquiry carried out by a team of three executive director-rank officials, which revealed that “the incident was solely attributable to human failure as proper procedures were not followed”, Singh told TOI. “This small area of the depot is not controlled by the signaling system and, therefore, is subject to human error. We will devise a system to avoid such incidents in future”. Stressing that commuters have nothing to worry, Singh said, “Their safety is our prime concern and we take great precautions to ensure that our trains, stations, civil structures and other systems are safe”. The train’s brakes, which were isolated to move it within the depot with the help of a battery-operated vehicle, were not normalised before moving it on its own power, said Dayal. As a result, as soon as it was brought on the ramp, it started to roll back and got derailed, he added.



Rs 1.60L stolen from couple’s car during coffee stop on NH-8



Mumbai: A Santacruz couple with a manufacturing unit in Palghar lost Rs 1.60 lakh and important documents kept in their parked car to two thieves as they sat drinking coffee at a hotel near Manor on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad National Highway, or NH-8, on Saturday. When Ismail Godhrawala (52) and his wife, Durriya (48), got back to their car in the open parking space outside the hotel by 8.20 pm, they found the rear left window glass broken. Two black bags containing Rs 1.60 lakh, debit and credit cards, PAN and Aadhaar cards and confidential documents of their company were stolen. The act of theft was captured by the CCTV cameras of Food Hub, a hotel on the highway in Haloli village. The security guard was missing from the parking lot when the theft took place. The Godhrawalas own a unit that manufactures book binding wires, Taiyebji Wires Pvt Ltd, in Palghar and were returning home when they halted for refreshments around 7.45 pm.


By the time the FIR was registered at the Manor police station, it was 2 am on Sunday. To add to their woes, the printer at the police station was broken and they were asked to collect the copy of the FIR after daybreak on Sunday. A police official said that as the printer was giving trouble, they asked the couple to spend the night at a nearby hotel. With little money on them, the Godhrawalas could not check in anywhere. “We ended up sleeping in the car with a broken window pane. We had to park alongside another hotel on the highway,” Durriya said. The FIR copy was given to the couple at 7 am. The couple said that their car was parked near the CCTV camera but the security guard was missing when the theft took place. The CCTV footage shows two men loitering around the hotel for an hour before the theft and fleeing with the bags on an unregistered motorcycle.



Delhi: 15 trains cancelled, 30 delayed due to low visibility


NEW DELHI: Train services were badly hit in Delhi on Thursday morning due to low visibility conditions in the capital. Thirty Delhi trains were delayed, 11 rescheduled and 15 cancelled due to low visibility and other operational reasons on Thursday. Lowering temperature and foggy conditions also affected Delhi’s air quality which turned into “very poor’ category. On Wednesday, Delhi’s air quality dipped due to a drastic fall in wind speed, triggering rapid accumulation of pollutants and a grey haze, which affected visibility across the city. The Air Quality Index (AQI), which was recorded at 359 (very poor) at 4pm by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), fell to ‘severe’ by 8pm with an AQI of 417. Met officials have forecast dense fog in the capital from Thursday, which is likely to further affect air quality. Visibility at the Safdarjung observatory continued to hover around 800 metres, while it fell down below 500 metres in some parts, which were covered in “grey haze”. Officials from the Regional Weather Forecasting Centre (RWFC) said the conditions have been caused due to a drop in wind speed, along with a slight rise in relative humidity. “Visibility was low throughout the day.


Delhi will see dense fog from Thursday that will stay for some time…pollution levels may rise,” said Kuldeep Shrivastav, scientist at RWFC. The spike in pollution levels on Wednesday saw average PM10 levels reach 414 micrograms per cubic metre at 9pm on Wednesday, up from 200 on Tuesday. The average PM2.5 levels also saw a sharp spike and touched 260 micrograms per cubic metre at the same time—around four times the safe standard. Dipankar Saha, head of CPCB’s air laboratory, said the situation is likely to improve soon after winds start blowing from the north again. “We are going through calm wind conditions but winds from the north are likely to blow again soon. We can expect a drop in temperatures then, coupled with fog,” said Saha.



Burglars break into CCTV shop



New Delhi: Burglars broke into a shop selling CCTV cameras in northwest Delhi’s Keshavpuram on Tuesday night but could not steal anything valuable as the alarm went off. Ironically, the owner had put up an advertisement outside the shop asking customers to purchase cameras to prevent burglaries. The incident was captured on the CCTV camera at the shop. Cops are now analysing it to identify the miscreants. Sources said that the footage also showed the burglars mocking at the advertisement while breaking the door lock. “A group of five burglars gathered outside the shop around 2.30am and broke open the shutter using a crowbar,” said a police officer. As soon as they managed to break the lock, the alarm system attached to the door alerted the shop owner, who informed the PCR about the break in. By the time cops reached the shop, the men had fled.



Burglars take away CCTV cameras



CHENNAI: Miscreants broke open two shops in Ashok Nagar and made way with cash and valuables, besides CCTV cameras installed in the shops. According to police, Praveen, a resident of Jafferkhanpet, owns a medical shop on 12th Main Road, Ashok Nagar. In the wee hours of Tuesday, an unidentified gang broke open the shop and decamped with Rs 8,000. Later the gang broke into a tailor shop located on the other side of the same road and stole Rs 4,000 kept in the cash box, police added. Ashok Nagar police arrived at the spot on Tuesday and found that CCTV cameras installed in the pharmacy were also missing. “Burglars also stole the computer in which the CCTV camera recordings were stored so that they leave no traces behind,” said one of the investigating officers. Police suspect role of someone in the neighbourhood, as evidences suggest that the gang was familiar with the access routes and other details about these shops.



International News



Putin says Russia’s spy agencies prevented 60 terror attacks



MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin says Russian security agencies have thwarted 60 terror attacks in the country this year. Russia marked its Day of Employees of State Security Agencies on Wednesday. Speaking to intelligence officers on their professional holiday, Putin said Russia would continue working to “destroy hotbeds of international terrorism” following its campaign in Syria. The Russian leader called US President Donald Trump on Sunday to thank him for a CIA tip that the Kremlin said helped prevent a series of bombings in St. Petersburg last weekend. The Kremlin’s account of the call was Russia’s first public assertion that information from the U.S. has helped prevent an attack. In his comments Wednesday, Putin nonetheless emphasized the need to counter foreign spies and block foreign attempts to meddle in Russia’s domestic politics.



Fighting in eastern Ukraine worst since February: OSCE


KIEV/NOVOLUHANSKE: Fighting in eastern Ukraine has escalated to the worst level in months, officials monitoring the conflict said on Tuesday, after the shelling of a frontline village wounded eight civilians and destroyed or damaged dozens of homes. A Russia-backed insurgency erupted in 2014 and the bloodshed has continued despite a ceasefire deal that was meant to end a conflict in which more than 10,000 people have been killed, with casualties reported on a near-daily basis. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which monitors the implementation of the peace agreement, said it had recorded 16,000 ceasefire violations between December 11 and December 17, a 35 percent increase on the week before. “We note with concern a sharp deterioration in the security situation with ceasefire violations reaching levels not recorded since February this year, “chief monitor Ertugrul Apakan said in a statement. In February, a surge of violence around the government-held industrial town of Avdivka cut off power and water to thousands of civilians on the front line. Apakan said the latest escalation reflected an established trend “in which a recommitment to the ceasefire by the sides was followed by a steady increase in the level of violence, culminating in fierce fighting”. Apakan’s comments followed warnings from aid agencies over the humanitarian situation in the eastern Donbass region, particularly given Monday’s attack on the government-controlled village of Novoluhanske. The United Nations‘ OCHA humanitarian arm said on Twitter heavy shelling near Novoluhanske was affecting 2,000 residents. People are fleeing the area in blizzard conditions, it said. Eight civilians were wounded and more than 50 buildings were damaged in the shelling, which also temporarily cut power supplies, the regional Kiev-controlled Donetsk administration said.


A Reuters witness saw residents picking their way through the rubble of destroyed homes and surveying fire-blackened buildings. The US State Department said the humanitarian situation was “dire” because of the shelling, which it blamed on Russian-led forces firing Grad multiple-launch rockets. The Ukrainian military on Tuesday accused pro-Russian separatists of deliberately firing more than 40 times from multiple-launch rocket systems at Novoluhanske. Meanwhile, the rebel command said attacks from the Ukrainian side had almost doubled in the past 24 hours, according to separatist news website DAN. Rebels deny attacking Novoluhanske and say the Ukrainian military fired at the village to justify their attacks on separatist-held civilian areas, according to DAN. The US State Department also voiced concern about fighting around the Donetsk water filtration station, which has a system of pipes that carry chlorine gas. “If those were to go off in this area, which is close to where people live, it could be potentially devastating, “State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told a briefing. She said civilian water workers were trapped in the station’s bomb shelter and could not get out because of fighting. In an effort to end the deadlock, the international community, including the United States, has in recent months been advocating for the deployment of U.N. peacekeepers in the Donbass. Both Kiev and Moscow backed the idea but disagree on whether the troops should be positioned on the rebel-controlled part of the Ukraine-Russia border, so no decision was made. Russia denies accusations from Ukraine and NATO that it supports the rebels with troops and weapons.

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