Swine flu kills 1,094 in India in 8 months
NEW DELHI: The number of deaths caused by swine flu in the country has touched 1,094. Of them, 342 people have died due to the viral illness in the past three weeks. The latest data on swine flu, released by the Union health ministry on Wednesday, reveals that Maharashtra and Gujarat are worst affected by the viral influenza with 437 and 269 deaths, respectively. States like Rajasthan, Kerala and Delhi have also reported a high incidence of the disease. The H1N1 strain in circulation this year is different from that in previous years, Dr. A C Dhariwal, director of NCDC, told TOI. The virus in circulation this year is of the Michigan strain. Earlier, it was mostly the California strain,” Dhariwal said. He said the new strain could be a reason for the increased incidence and mortality, but it is yet to be proved scientifically. The AIIMS and Pune’s National Institute of Virology said the same thing. Jagdish Prasad, director general of health services (DGHS), said middle-aged persons and those with co-morbidities such as diabetes, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or cancer are vulnerable to death due to swine flu. “They should take extra precautions,” he added. Data on swine flu cases and deaths released by the government shows September and October are peak months for transmission of the viral influenza. Dr. Dhariwal said accurate reporting of notifiable diseases in necessary to alert the local population about necessary precautions and for the state authorities to prepare action-plan to tackle extra-rush of patients in hospitals. In Delhi, government data shows five people died of the viral illness and 1,719 people had been affected as on August 20. However, TOI checked with five top hospitals and found they had recorded more than 40 deaths.
Robbers decamp with cash, gold worth Rs80L from flat, jewellery shop
Mumbai: In two cases, unidentified men robbed a flat and a jewellery shop in Nalasopara allegedly at gunpoint. Tuling police in Nalasopara (E) said there was no CCTV footage to establish that the thieves were armed. In the first case, four courier boys allegedly knocked at the flat of businessman Kamal Arora (72) at Sky Heights at 4pm on Tuesday. The domestic help, with her 10-year-old son, was told there was a parcel for Arora. When she was about to take the parcel, the four, who were in their 20’s, barged in and threatened her, allegedly at gunpoint. They decamped with Rs 13 lakh and gold worth Rs 7 lakh. The domestic help told police they demanded the keys of the cupboard in the bedroom, where the cash and valuables were kept. Police suspect an insider’s role as the robbers knew where the cash and valuables were kept. Arora, who owns a factory in Palghar, had gone to the stock market, while his wife had left home for a nearby temple. Their two sons stay in the same locality.
Police said the domestic help had been taken for questioning. The accused had come in a Scorpio, which was parked outside the building. Police have obtained CCTV footage of the Scorpio, based on which they will track down the owner. Police said they did not harm the domestic help or her son. They are obtaining sketches of the suspects based on her description. In the other case, a man, allegedly armed, robbed gold ornaments worth over Rs 60 lakh from Shivam Jewellers at Nagindas Pada on Wednesday. Police said the owner, Roop Singh, had gone out for lunch and his brother-in-law, Mangu Singh, was in when a customer approached him. Mangu told police the suspect claimed he had placed an order for a gold chain. When Mangu went looking for it, he pulled down the shutter and allegedly pointed a gun at him. The masked man took Mangu to the vault, where the valuables were and took away the CCTV cameras too. Tuling inspector Kishore Khairnar are questioning Mangu and examining CCTV footage. Cases under section 394 (robbery) of IPC and sections 3 and 5 of Arms Act have been registered in both cases.
Cops rob toll plaza staff, caught on camera
AGRA: Authorities at a toll plaza on the Agra-Delhi National Highway 2 have filed a complaint against six police personnel of Mathura, including a circle officer, for allegedly manhandling their staff and looting Rs 40,000 in cash from them. Assistant manager of the plaza OP Yadav said, “Six policemen, including the circle officer of Refinery circle Nitin Singh, came to the plaza on the intervening night of August 22 and 23 and looted the cash after assaulting the staff. CCTV footage of the incident has been submitted along with the complaint”. According to Yadav, the incident occurred between 11.45pm and 1am. The policemen arrived at the toll plaza in an SUV belonging to the circle officer (CO) and entered lane 13 meant for fast lane tag vehicles. He said since the vehicle did not have a fast lane tag, the barrier went down and blocked the vehicle’s exit. “The CO and other policemen came out and started threatening the staff. An argument ensued, following which they manhandled the staff.” CO Nitin Singh, denied allegations and said that he was on patrol duty when three people approached him and complained that the toll staff was charging extra money. “We have already registered a case against 25 people including the manager on duty, Vinay Yadav and unidentified people under sections 147 (rioting) and 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter public servant from his duty),” Singh said.
Heavy rains lash Bengaluru, MET warns of wet festival
BENGALURU: Late evening rain returned to Bengaluru city, disrupting normal life, flooding roads and submerging vehicles in several localities. With the weatherman forecasting heavy rain on Thursday and Friday, a wet Ganesha and Gowri festival is in the offing. The rain began around 7.30pm and soon it was pouring across the city. The Met department man reported 10mm rainfall in the city till 8:30 pm, but heavy rain continued past midnight. “There is an upper air circulation over coastal Andhra Pradesh which is causing rains in the city. The intensity of rains likely to increase in the next two days,” said an official from meteorological department. BBMP control rooms were flooded with complaints of major and minor waterlogging in the city, although only three tree felling cases were reported from near Mysuru Road, RV Dental College in Jayanagar and Devaiah Park in Malleswaram. Waterlogging was reported in Marathahalli, Rammurthynagar, Vijayanagar, Saraswatinagar, Doddenakundi and Basavanagar. Two vehicles were found almost half submerged near an underpass on Outer Ring Road.
Anuradha Arun, a resident in Marathahalli, said: The area next to More Mega Market is completely submerged in water. We are unable to step out of our houses and water has entered our basements and porticos. With another hour of rainfall, water will enter our houses”. “The Kelkere Road junction near Holy Family Church in Rammurthynagar is under four feet of water already and several houses are flooded. There’s an old shop that has fallen due to rains and all this mess has happened due to several shops that have been raised on the storm water drain blocking the flow of water,” said Vinod Ashok, a resident. Severe traffic congestion till late night was reported from Sanjaynagar, Kalyannagar, Bilekahalli, Varthur, Whitefield, Inner Ring Road, KR Puram, Devarabisanahalli, Bellandur due to waterlogging on the roads. Five pumps were deployed to pump out water from the flooded PF junction in Sampangiram Nagar.
Blast vigil: Vehicles in Hills under scanner
Kolkata: The security forces in the Hills carried out extensive checks of vehicles at Kalimpong, Kurseong and Rongpo on Wednesday, as part of their area-domination exercise. They have also installed surveillance cameras at important junctions in all three areas. The searches were primarily directed at vehicles including those carrying emergency supplies to Darjeeling. During the inspection at Zero Point in Kalimpong, the security personnel even opened bags and tiffin boxes after receiving inputs that “private vehicles would be used to transport ammunition and bombs” from the area, claimed sources. According to sources, the prime objective behind the checks was to ensure that explosives were not been transported secretly. But it also implies more. “The idea is to pressurize the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha leadership and send out the message that the administration is closely watching their moves,” said a senior IPS officer in Kolkata. The cops also conducted raids in parts of Darjeeling to track those involved in the hand grenade blast at Kalimpong police station on Saturday night that killed a civic volunteer and injured two. The teams, led by IG Manoj Verma and SP Akhilesh Chaturvedi, raided Patlebas, Malidhura and Singla.
“Most leaders are no longer in the forefront of the movement. We want to show the residents that it isn’t the GJM but the cops who have the power conduct checks and that they are absolutely safe here,” said another officer posted in Darjeeling. The GJM, however, was guarded in its response. “The CM has merely hinted at holding talks. We aren’t sure of the government’s real intentions. We can only appeal that we also stand for peace and want normalcy. But it can’t come by crushing a democratic movement,” said a spokesperson. Many theories regarding how the grenade was lobbed without the thrower being noticed have been doing the rounds. Some cops feel it was hurled from a surrounding building. While some said attackers hurled it from moving bikes, others said it was lobbed from a dark spot opposite the police station. “CCTV footages are being checked. We have intelligence inputs that some GJM leaders and supporters have been amassing explosives. The agitation is being given a violent twist and they are waging a war against the state. The persons involved in the blasts are well trained. We are investigating if they have links with the northeast terrorist outfits or Maoists,” the SP added.
Chennai school wins award for becoming the first vegan school in India
CHENNAI: Many schools serve vegetarian food to students, but a school in Chennai won award for introducing an eco-friendly plant-based menu for its students. The German International School won a Compassionate School Award from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in recognition of its decision to start serving only meat-egg-dairy free meals to its students, said a release from PETA. Melanie Rolf, principal of the school, explained in the school newsletter how the new menu reflects the school’s commitment to environmentalism. “Raising animals for food is the single greatest human-caused source of destruction to our environment,” she said. Rolf also shared how the school’s plant-based snacks and lunches – which are packed with nutritious proteins, such as quinoa, lentils, and beans – provide children with all the vitamins and other nutrients they require. “As more and more families across India go vegan, German International School is the very first school to switch to meat-egg- and dairy-free student dining,” said Manilal Valliyate, CEO of PETA. “PETA is recognizing this institution for setting the perfect example for teaching students healthy eating habits that also protect animals and the environment,” he added.
Typhoon leaves 12 dead after lashing Macau, Hong Kong
HONG KONG: The death toll from Severe Typhoon Hato rose to at least 12 Thursday after the storm left a trail of destruction across southern China and battered Hong Kong skyscrapers. Eight died in the worst-hit gambling hub of Macau, where local media showed cars underwater and people swimming along what are normally streets. The enclave’s famed mega-casinos were running on backup generators. One man was killed after being injured by a wall that blew down, another fell from a fourth floor terrace and another was a Chinese tourist hit by a truck. The Macau government said a male body was found in a carpark early Thursday, but details on the other victims there were not immediately available. The enclave’s sprawling Venetian casino resort was on back-up power Wednesday and without air conditioning or proper lighting, according to one source, while residents took to social media to complain about city-wide power and mobile phone network outages. Firefighters in Macau have been carrying out rescue work, while a cleanup operation is underway.
In Hong Kong, Hato had raised the most severe Typhoon 10 warning, only the third time a storm of this power has pounded the financial hub in the past 20 years. More than 120 were injured as the territory was lashed with hurricane winds and pounding rain, with police adding that one 83-year-old man earlier thought to be a victim had actually committed suicide during the typhoon. In the neighbouring southern Chinese province of Guangdong, at least four people died and 26,817 were evacuated to temporary shelters, the official Xinhua news agency said. Nearly two million households were briefly without power. Hong Kong and the surrounding region is regularly besieged by typhoons between July and October. The city saw its strongest storm in 1962 when the eye of Typhoon Wanda passed over and gusts of 284 kilometres per hour were recorded. It killed 130 and left 72,000 people homeless in Hong Kong alone.
Civilians among 30 dead in Yemen air raids
SANAA: Air raids on Yemen’s rebel-held capital on Wednesday killed more than 30 people, including civilians, local and international aid organisations said. Hussein al-Tawil, head of the Sanaa branch of Yemen’s Red Crescent, said at least 35 people were killed in raids on Sanaa as rescuers continued to pull bodies from the rubble. An official with an international aid organisation confirmed to AFP that at least 30 people had been killed in a series of strikes on Sanaa, which is home to the country’s anti-government Huthi rebels.
Boat sinks carrying 70 passengers in Brazil, at least 7 dead
SAO PAULO/BRASILIA: A passenger boat carrying about 70 people sank in the northern Brazilian state of Para, with at least seven people confirmed dead, authorities said on Wednesday. Authorities said 25 people had been found alive following the Tuesday night shipwreck on the Xingu River, according to a statement from the State Secretary for Public Security and Social Defense. Bodies of a teenager and a child were among those recovered. Rescue operations were underway and civil police were investigating the cause of the shipwreck.