News Flash – 23 July 2019

National News



86 people saved in City’s Biggest-ever Fire Rescue Operations


Mumbai: In one of the largest rescue operations mounted in recent times, the fire brigade brought down 86 people stranded on the terrace of the nine-storey MTNL telephone exchange off S V Road in Bandra (W) after fire erupted in the building around 3pm on Monday. There was no casualty; a fireman sustained minor injuries. Smoke engulfed neighbouring buildings and a nearby school, and even blew across Bandra railway station. The fire, which allegedly started in an air-conditioning unit, was largely confined to the building’s third and fourth floors. Chief fire officer P S Rahangdale claimed this was the fire brigade’s largest operation, involving 170 breathing apparatus instead of the usual dozen, 16 fire engines and 175 firefighters, along with Robofire a remote-controlled vehicle fitted with firefighting equipment used for the first time. Most of the trapped employees in the building, which houses the MTNL office as well as staff quarters, were brought down by 5.40 in the evening.



Smoke enters nearby School, 2 Buildings; 1,200 Kids Evacuated


Mumbai: Nearly 1,200 students from a school and occupants of two residential buildings that stand close to Bandra’s nine-storey MTNL Telephone Exchange building where a fire broke out on Monday afternoon had to be evacuated as thick smoke entered their premises. Anjuman-e-Islam Girls High School, which stands right behind MTNL building, was filled with smoke minutes after the fire. “Nearly 1,200 students of class V to VIII were in the building. Smoke entered the classrooms and soon, visibility was affected. We immediately took the children to the playground to avoid inhalation of the smoke. We also informed the police, who checked the premises to ensure no one was left behind. Parents too were informed through calls and messages and all students were sent home safely,” said principal Saba Patel. Residents of Sanjary Apartments, which shares a boundary wall with the MTNL building, too complained of smoke entering their building. A fifth-floor resident, Israr Shaikh, said people had difficulty breathing and soon, a fire officer asked them to vacate the building.



“We shifted our families to houses of relatives and only young people are staying back in the compound to keep a tab on the developments”. The A wing of nearby JJ Colony too was affected. A resident of the colony, Mohammad Safi, said, “We vacated houses as firemen alerted us about the seriousness”. As the MTNL building is only about 500m from Bandra station, railway commuters too witnessed the fire. Those travelling by Western Railway trains said they could see fumes as their locals entered Bandra. “I first presumed there was a fire at the station. The fumes had entered the station area,’’ said a commuter who got off at Bandra to get home. WR chief spokesperson Ravinder Bhakar said that the smoke was not thick at the station and did not cause any “suffocation” or “uneasiness” to any commuter. “Also, it did not impact operations of suburban and long-distance trains,” he added. A nearby petrol pump too was shut during the fire-fighting operation.



Ebola, 9 other viral diseases pose a big threat to India


New Delhi: India needs to brace for viral diseases like Ebola that have not entered the country so far but have raged in some other countries in recent years. Scientists from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) — the most important health research bodies in the country have identified 10 emerging viral infections that could pose a threat to public health in India. These include Ebola, MERS-CoV, Yellow Fever and Avian Influenza (H7N9). Dr Balram Bhargava, director general of ICMR, said increasing international travel has raised the chances of these diseases reaching India, so it is important to prepare for emergencies. “Nearly 30,000 Indians live in Uganda, where Ebola has been reported. Some of our troops are also present in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the viral infection has led to an outbreak situation at present,” Dr Bhargava said. Ebola is a highly contagious disease that gets transmitted through bodily fluids and causes haemorrhagic fever with internal and external bleeding. Death occurs in 70% of the cases.



MERS-CoV or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronaviruses, which was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012 and has since spread to 26 countries, causes respiratory distress syndrome resulting in multi-organ failure. No case of MERS has been detected in India so far, according to a review of emerging and reemerging viral diseases and new viruses published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research (IJMR). “Bats are thought to be the natural reservoirs of this virus, and many patients developed the illness after contact with camels. India is home to a great diversity of bat species and has a substantial camel population. The country also reports heavy passenger traffic from the Middle East. These facts call for preparedness and surveillance against this virus,” the IJMR article says. It adds that sporadic cases of H7N9 and H9N2 – subtypes of avian influenza (AI) – have been reported. “Our country has infrastructure and expertise available to tackle any future challenge,” Dr Bhargava said.



Hotel supplier takes YouTube lessons, puts skimmer in ATM


Bengaluru: A 27-year-old hotel supplier who learnt about skimming from YouTube videos was caught while trying to steal customer data at an ATM kiosk. Yeshwantpur police have launched a manhunt to nab another accused. The arrested is Ahmed Hafeez, who works with restaurant in Shivajinagar. The absconding accused is Suhail, 37. Both are from Kasargod in Kerala and have been working in Bengaluru for four years. Wanted to make a quick buck, the two were keen on stealing customers’ debit card data by skimming. You-Tube videos came in handy for them and they learnt how to install skimming machines and small cameras in ATM kiosks. They went back to their hometown and ordered skimming machines and cameras online and started their operation after returning to Bengaluru. After consulting a man who could clone debit cards, the accused started installing skimming machines and cameras in the city.



Ahmed would go to an ATM kiosk early in the morning and install the machine and camera. While returning from work late in the night, he would visit the kiosk again and collect details to clone ATM cards. His luck ran out on July 12 when P Poornachandran, an officer with Canara Bank, came to know from his channel manager Gowtham that someone had installed a skimmer in the bank’s ATM kiosk on Bombay Dyeing Road in Yeshwantpur. The bank officials decided to stay back at night to check who’d collect the skimming device. Around 7.30pm, Hafeez entered the kiosk and was about to remove the skimming machine when bank officials swooped down on him and caught him red-handed. Investigating officials said that preliminary probe revealed that Suhail had installed a skimming machine in an ATM kiosk in Malleswaram too. On the day of Hafeez arrest, Suhail was scheduled to reach the ATM kiosk but did not turn up till 11.30 pm, apparently after getting to know about his friend was already caught.

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