News Flash – 21 May 2018

National News



Rs. 5 lakh’s reward for crime branch team that cracked Rs 2 crore ATM van heist in five hours



MUMBAI: The home department has approved Rs 5 lakh reward to a 17-member crime branch team that cracked within five hours a Rs1.9 crore ATM van heist in January 2015. All the six persons involved in the robbery were arrested and the loot recovered within 24 hours. The trial in the case has started and all the accused are in judicial custody. The incident happened on January 16, 2015 soon after Security Trans Company’s van left its Lower Parel office with Rs2.1 crore. The vehicle had five people: a custodian, his assistant, two guards and a driver. The crime was masterminded by Sadre Alam, a guard, with the help of the driver, Tariq Khan. When the van was near Worli Naka around 2 pm, Alam told Khan to stop the vehicle saying he had to meet a friend to collect money and asked them to have tea at a roadside stall till then. There, an aide of Alam gave them tea laced with sedative. By mistake, Khan also consumed some of the tea. “Alam returned within 15 minutes and they resumed the journey. Soon, the others lost consciousness. When the van was near Milan subway on Western Express highway, a white Zen, driven by Alam’s aides, blocked it.


They took out Rs1.95 crores and escaped. Khan told Alam he would act unconscious and stay back so that no one suspects him. He also asked Alam to hand over Rs35 lakh, his share, to a friend in Goregaon,” said senior inspector Deepak Phatangare, who was part of the investigation team and is currently posted at Malvani police station. As soon as the heist came to light, Vile Parle police and a team led by the then assistant commissioner of police Sunil Deshmukh—the team comprised senior inspector Deepak Phatangare, inspector Pandrinath Vavhal, Raju Kasbe, Sunil Mane, Sudhir Dalvi and team—reached Veera Desai Hospital in Santacruz where Khan and three others were admitted. As Khan had consumed only a little tea, he soon regained consciousness. “We picked Khan after finding discrepancies in his statements. He broke down and revealed the heist,” said Phatangare. Based on his statement, police recovered Rs35 lakh from his friend’s home. “His arrest led to two more accomplices. As we learnt from them that Alam was headed to Punjab, the Punjab police was alerted. Alam and two more accomplices were arrested at a naka bandi in Patiala the next day,” said inspector Mane, who is attached with Sakinaka police station now. ACP Deshmukh said they also learnt that Sadre was involved in a bank fraud in 2014.



500 flights delayed as winds hinder pilots in absence of navigation aid


MUMBAI: If you boarded a flight from Mumbai on Sunday and it took off on time, in all probability it was an early morning departure. After noon, particularly in the evening, almost all departures were delayed by an average of an hour, while arrivals were about 30 minutes late; 500 flights were delayed throughout the day, the worst-hit being in the evening and late night as the airport managed with only basic navigation aid, with gusting winds adding to delays. The airport’s instrument landing system (ILS), a navigation aid that allows air-traffic control (ATC) to stack arrivals close to each other, will remain switched off on runway 27 till June 5 for an upgrade. Sources said efforts were on to finish the work by June 2. What was commendable was that even with only basic navigation aid, Mumbai’s ATC managed to handle about 45 landings and take-offs an hour. With ILS, the runway can handle up to 54 flights an hour. Since delays are expected to continue this month, airfares on early morning flights out of Mumbai are likely to go up in the coming days. On Sunday, on a 24-hour advance purchase, the fare on the much-coveted early morning Delhi-Mumbai flight was Rs 10,000, while the cheapest fare for the day was Rs 8,000, which was for a seat on a late-evening flight.


Throughout Sunday, Mumbai airport stayed put on the top 10 list of worst airports in the world for flight delays. On flightradar24, a live-flight tracking website, between 4pm and 6pm, Mumbai airport ranked second, after Ningbo in China, for having the highest number of delayed flights. Bad weather added to the workload of ATC and pilots of aircraft that landed between 1.30pm and 4.30pm as winds gusting at 35 kmph further slowed down flight movement. “Flight operations were moved to secondary runway 32 between noon to 4pm to carry out routine maintenance of the main runway. Wind added to delays,” said a senior air-traffic controller. B Gupta, booked on a Mumbai-Lucknow flight scheduled to depart at 12.25pm but which eventually left at 3.40pm, said she left home around 10am. “I was travelling with a toddler. Had I received flight delay messages earlier, I would have left home only by noon,” she said. Said an airline official: “We haven’t been able to gauge how delayed would the arrival of a flight that left on time be and so it’s not possible to send delay messages to passengers booked on the next departure”.



Robotic arms to help firefighters act fast



New Delhi: Delhi Fire Service (DFS) is all set to equip itself better by the end of this year to match its infrastructure with most developed countries. Considering the increasing number of deaths caused due to fire, the department has made a first-of-its-kind plan to buy robotic arm fire tenders to deal with bigger incidents, especially in places where there are chances of walls collapsing. Senior fire officials said there are higher chances of the walls of a house or factory collapsing due to excessive heat. This is when the robotic arms will come in handy as they will ensure that the blaze is doused at the earliest. “Often, when a blaze is huge, firefighters cannot go inside. The delay sometimes causes grievous injuries or loss of life. This can be prevented with the help of robotic arms,” said an official. DFS director, RC Mishra, said that they will at first procure two robotic arms at Rs 4 crore each. The machine is being used in Germany, Japan and China and will have to be imported from one of these countries. The robotic arms will also have cameras and sensors to help the operator know the range of water, the amount of force required and volume available in the tank, officials said. They can change shape, be connected to pumps and throw water up to 100m from a height of almost 40m. They can be useful in congested lanes as fire tenders often get late in reaching such spots.


“Narrow and crowded lanes have always been a hindrance for us in reaching the place of a blaze in time. We will also be acquiring drones, which will be put in operation as soon as a fire is reported in narrow lanes,” said another official. Families of most victims have complained about fire tenders not reaching on time resulting in loss of lives. The robotic arms will give firemen time to reach the spot and make necessary arrangements. Officials added that crisis situations like the fire in a Bawana factory where 17 workers died inside the premises can be avoided to a large extent with the aid of such machines. In the last one month, hundreds of people have lost their houses in massive slum fires. “We will most likely have these machines by the end of this year,” said an official. As compared to 2017, more firemen have died while rescuing those caught inside burning houses and factories despite having their firefighting suits on. Officials have also requisitioned for better suits to avert such tragedies. The fire department has a total strength of 1,750 people. Almost 60 more fire tenders will be added taking the fleet to 250.



Hyderabad to get India’s first cyber security cluster



HYDERABAD: The Hyderabad Security Foundation (HSF) — India’s first cyber security cluster — will be formally launched on May 22 in the city, with the Mayor of Hague and the head of the Hague Security Delta (HSD) signing a ‘program of corporation’ on cyber security. This was confirmed by Telangana IT secretary, Jayesh Ranjan who shared that the delegation will also include cyber security companies from the Netherlands. The visit, he added, is aimed at intensifying Indo-Dutch cooperation in the cyber security sector and strengthening ties to focus on counter-terrorism and information sharing. “The agreement between member companies and institutions of the Hyderabad Security Foundation and the HSD will be signed on May 22. We have a good eco-system of cyber security here in Hyderabad due to the presence of private companies, government institutions, start-ups and National law school (NALSAR). We will be taking help from HSD in developing a cyber-security cluster of our own apart from designing cyber security courses and developing legal framework for cyber security which is currently not robust in India”.


The launch of the cluster is expected to catapult Hyderabad into the global cyber security eco-system in a big way. “Our vision is to achieve a major stake in the $35 billion cyber security market. Our major emphasis will on critical information infrastructure protection, government network, e-governance, education and skill training, security software development, innovation of products ban services and collaboration in forensic science,” said Zaki Qureshey, founding father and task force member HSF. Political dialogue has been on between the countries. “For India’s information sector, Europe ranks number two in terms of amount of business it drives, and for many IT firms, it’s their largest global market. As companies tighten focus on containing cyber risks, they are witnessing a significant rise in digital talent gap, especially in terms of cyber security skills,” said Vikas Kohli, senior policy advisor, The Kingdom of Netherlands Embassy.



International News



Afghan cricket stadium attack leaves 8 dead, 45 wounded

An injured man receives treatment in a hospital after blasts at sports stadium in Jalalabad city, Afghanistan.



JALALABAD: Eight people were killed and 45 wounded in a series of explosions targeting a cricket match in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, officials said on Saturday, the first attack since the holy month of Ramadan began. The blasts exploded among spectators crowded into the stadium at around 11pm on Friday evening as they watched the local “Ramadan Cup”, the provincial governor’s office said. No group has yet claimed the murders but the Taliban said they were not responsible in a WhatsApp message. Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, on the border with Pakistan, has a Taliban presence and is also a stronghold of the Islamic State group. In September 2017 IS claimed a suicide bombing on a cricket match in Kabul which left three dead and five injured. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday condemned the attack in Jalalabad. “The terrorists did not stop killing our people even during the holy month of Ramadan … by carrying out a terrorist attack in a populated sport stadium, once again they have proved that they are not bound to any creed or religion, and they are the enemy of humanity,” a statement from his office said. Cricket in Afghanistan struggled under the hardline Islamist Taliban regime in the late 1990s, which viewed sports as a distraction from religious duties. But its popularity has surged in the years since the US invasion, a dizzying rise which saw Afghanistan become part of the elite group of Test nations last year.



Company in Cuba plane crash had received safety complaints

Site of the Boeing 737 crash in Havana.



HAVANA: The Mexican charter company whose 39-year-old plane crashed in Havana had been the subject of two serious complaints about its crews’ performance over the last decade, according to authorities in Guyana and a retired pilot for Cuba‘s national airline. Mexico’s government said late Saturday that its National Civil Aviation Authority will carry out an operational audit of Damojh airlines to see if its “current operating conditions continue meeting regulations” and to help collect information for the investigation into Friday’s crash in Cuba that left 110 dead. The plane that crashed, a Boeing 737, was barred from Guyanese airspace last year after authorities discovered that its crew had been allowing dangerous overloading of luggage on flights to Cuba, Guyanese Civil Aviation Director Capt. Egbert Field told The Associated Press on Saturday. The plane and crew were being rented from Mexico City-based Damojh by Easy Sky, a Honduras-based low-cost airline. Cuba’s national carrier, Cubana de Aviation, was also renting the plane and crew in a similar arrangement known as a “wet lease” before the aircraft veered on takeoff to the eastern Cuban city of Holguin and crashed into a field just after noon Friday, according to Mexican aviation authorities. A Damojh employee in Mexico City declined to comment, saying the company would be communicating only through written statements. Mexican authorities said Damojh had permits needed to lease its aircraft and had passed a November 2017 verification of its maintenance program. They announced a new audit late Saturday.


Cuban Transportation Minister Adel Yzquierdo Rodriguez told reporters Saturday afternoon that Cubana had been renting the plane for less than a month under an arrangement in which the Mexican company was entirely responsible for maintenance of the aircraft. Armando Daniel Lopez, president of Cuba’s Institute of Civil Aviation, told the AP that Cuban authorities had not received any complaints about the plane in that month. He declined to comment further. Yzquierdo said it was routine for Cuba to rent planes under a variety of arrangements because of what he described as the country’s inability to purchase its own aircraft due to the US trade embargo on the island. Cuba has been able to buy planes produced in other countries, including France and Ukraine, but has pulled many from service due to maintenance problems and other issues. “It’s normal for us to rent planes,” he said. “Why? Because it’s convenient and because of the problem of the blockade that we have. Sometimes we can’t buy the planes that we need, and we need to rent them”. He said that with Damojh, “the formula here is that they take care of the maintenance of the aircraft. That’s their responsibility”. He said Cuba didn’t have pilots certified to fly the Boeing, so it had hired the Mexican crew with the expectation that they were fully trained and certified by the proper authorities. Yzquierdo also said the jet’s “black box” voice recorder had been recovered and that Cuban officials had granted a U.S. request for investigators from Boeing to travel to the island.


Eyewitness and private salon owner Rocio Martinez said she heard a strange noise and looked up to see the plane with a turbine on fire. “It had an engine on fire, in flames, it was falling toward the ground,” Martinez said, adding that the plane veered into the field where it crashed, avoiding potential fatalities in a nearby residential area. Field told AP that the Boeing 737 with tail number XA-UHZ had been flying four routes a week between Georgetown, Guyana, and Havana starting in October 2016. Cubans do not need visas to travel to Guyana, and the route was popular with Cubans working as “mules” to bring suitcases crammed with goods back home to the island, where virtually all consumer products are scarce and more expensive than in most other countries. After Easy Sky canceled a series of flights in spring 2017, leaving hundreds of Cubans stranded at Guyana’s main airport, authorities began inspecting the plane and discovered that crews were loading excessive amounts of baggage, leading to concerns the aircraft could be dangerously overburdened and unbalanced. In one instance, Guyanese authorities discovered suitcases stored in the plane’s toilet. “This is the same plane and tail number,” Guyanese Infrastructure Minister David Patterson said. He and other Guyanese authorities said they did not immediately known if the crew suspended last May was the same one that died in Friday’s crash. Damojh operates three Boeing 737s, two 737-300s and the 737-201 that crashed Friday, according to Mexican officials.


Ovidio Martinez Lopez, a pilot for Cubana for over 40 years until he retired six years ago, wrote in a post on Facebook that a plane rented from the Mexican company by Cubana briefly dropped off radar while over the city of Santa Clara in 2010 or 2011, triggering an immediate response by Cuban aviation security officials. As a result, Cuban officials suspended a captain and co-pilot for “serious technical knowledge issues,” and Cuba’s Aviation Security authority issued a formal recommendation that Cubana stop renting planes and crews from Damojh, Martinez wrote. “They are many flight attendants and security personnel who refused to fly with this airline,” Martinez wrote. “On this occasion, the recommendation was overlooked and they rented from them again”. Contacted by AP in Havana, Martinez confirmed his Facebook account but declined to comment further. Mexican officials said the Boeing 737-201 was built in 1979. Mexican aviation authorities said a team of experts would fly to Cuba on Saturday to take part in the investigation.

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