News Flash – 24 July 2018

National News



BKC, Thane, Antop Hill at risk of extreme flooding, says study


Mumbai: Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC), Thane, Bhiwandi and Antop Hill are among the areas most at risk from extreme floods, according to RMSI, a leading risk management consultancy that works with major insurers and government agencies. The assessment shows, expectedly, that the areas around the rivers and creeks are at high risk from extreme flooding. Kalina, Sahar Road, BKC and Dharavi all lie along the Mithi river and were inundated during the 2005 Mumbai deluge when 944mm of rain descended on the city in just one day. But the risk model also identifies Thane, Bhiwandi, Mumbra and Kalwa, along the Ulhas River and Thane Creek, as high flood-risk areas. Among Indian cities most at risk are Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kochi, Bhubaneshwar and Allahabad.



Malaria cases outpace dengue this season


New Delhi: Malaria is turning out to be the fastest spreading mosquito-borne disease this season. As per municipal data released on Monday, 75 people have been affected by malaria as on July 21 this year. It is higher than the number of people affected by dengue (43) and chikungunya (34), the two other mosquito-borne diseases, in the said period. Among the cases traced by authorities concerned, a maximum of 13 malaria patients resided in the jurisdiction of east corporation, followed by south corporation (7), north corporation (5), NDMC (3) and Delhi Cantonment (3). “Total 44 cases remained untraced after investigation,” the officials said. Last year also, Delhi reported high incidence of malaria with 577 cases. In 2016, 2015, and 2014, the number of cases of the mosquito-borne disease stood at 454, 359 and 201 respectively. No malaria deaths have been reported by the civic bodies in the last five years. The doctors said the corporation’s data on incidence of malaria and deaths due to it does not give the complete picture. “The corporations report only those cases that are treated in its sentinel hospitals or big private hospitals that send them case reports. Hundreds of patients with febrile illnesses who get treated at smaller nursing homes or standalone clinics aren’t included in the data,” said a senior doctor working with National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP).


He added that malaria cases, which were once considered on the wane, have shown significant resurgence across southeast Asia, Africa and South Africa, among others. “It is mainly on account of reduced focus and expenditure by the governments,” he said. While dengue and chikungunya viruses are spread by Aedes aegypti mosquito that breeds in fresh water, malaria is spread by the anopheles’ mosquito that can breed in dirty water. Dr D K Seth, principal consultant at Hindu Rao Hospital, said high incidence of malaria may be reflective of poor sanitation levels. “We need to renew our focus on the disease with an aim eradicate it at the source and thus reduce its spread,” he said. Symptoms of malaria include fever, headache, chills and vomiting, and usually appear 10 to 15 days after the mosquito bite. “If untreated within 24 hours, malaria can lead to severe illness, and even result in death. In many parts of the world, the parasites have developed resistance to a number of malaria medicines,” the WHO said. The municipal health officials said dengue and chikungunya cases may also soar in the coming months.



Lightning alert: In May, June bolts kill 11 in T & 73 in AP


Hyderabad: In two months this summer and at the onset of monsoon, 73 people lost their lives in Andhra Pradesh and 11 in Telangana due to lightning strikes during thunderstorms. Across the country, 17 people die of lightning every day, and 1,006 lost their lives in May and June 2018. After Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha and West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh has the highest number of deaths due to lightning in the country. Though AP has worked out on a technology that gives warning half-an-hour ahead of lightning, the number of deaths are significant. Telangana, though, is yet to establish an early warning system. These statistics came to the fore from a data provided by minister of home affairs (state) Kiren Rijiju in the Rajya Sabha on July 18, to a question from Karnataka MP D Kupendra Reddy that 1,006 people died and 635 were injured in the country in May and June 2018. Indian Meteorological Department, Hyderabad, director YK Reddy told TOI, “Lightning due to thunderstorms happen more in April, May and part of June during the onset of monsoon. May is the peak period for thunderstorms and lightning as compared to any other month of the year. In coastal states such as AP, due to high humidity and high temperatures, thunderstorms and lightning occur more.


In Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and north West Bengal lightning strikes are more due to Nor’wester (Kala Bhaisaki) — local thunderstorm developed due to the confluence of winds”. Reddy added, “AP has installed lightning detecting sensors, which warn 30 minutes in advance at a geographic location. AP is disseminating information to the public through various means and advising people to go to safe places. However, still, deaths are reported. There is no such system in Telangana. Though the accuracy of the system is still questionable, it is the only available technology now”. Telangana State Development Planning Society CEO SK Meera told TOI, “The disaster management department of Telangana is working on setting up lightning warning system. We are creating awareness among the public along with revenue and disaster management departments with the help of UN cooperation on lightning strikes to prevent deaths”.



House collapse claims 2 lives at market in Sealdah


Kolkata: Two persons died and one was injured when portions of a two-storeyed building at Baithakkhana Market in Sealdah collapsed early on Monday morning. It is believed that heavy rain over the last 24 hours led to the cave-in of the century-old building, which the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) had declared “insecure” years back. The deceased — Gopal Naskar, a 60-year-old local resident and 48-year old trader Manik Jana from Midnapore’s Daspur — had taken shelter in the building on Sunday night. The house has around 20 shops, majority of them sell puffed rice during the day and serves as a shelter for those from far-off places. Both Naskar and Jana were in deep sleep on the ground floor when large concrete chunks came crashing down. Both got buried under debris. Another youth, who was also sleeping on the ground floor, could sniff danger and managed to rush out, but not before a chunk fell on his head. He was taken to the hospital with a broken skull. Though still critical, he is responding to treatment, a source said. Kolkata Police has started two separate cases against the owner of the building who, a section of KMC building department officials claimed, was absconding. According to a civic official, KMC had slapped five notices on the building in last five years, asking the owner to undertake necessary repairs or vacate the building. The civic body was about to issue a distress warrant against the owner.


“All our requests fell on deaf ears. The owner did not take any measure and the condition of the building worsened in all these years. We were about to issue a distress warrant and force the owner to undertake an immediate repair, but the accident struck before that,” a KMC building department official said. According to mayor Sovan Chatterjee, KMC has lodged an FIR against the owner for the death of two persons. He expressed apprehensions of more collapses as many buildings in the locality are in a bad shape. “Special concession would be provided to the owners of rickety buildings who would take up repair works,” he said. Local traders, however, claimed that the lives could have been saved had the police or civic workers not delayed the rescue operations. “It is true that a police team and local civic workers started the rescue operation from early morning. However, they could not do anything effective till disaster management group workers joined them with necessary equipment to bring out the trapped traders. Had these experts of rescue operations reached early, the lives could have been saved,” said Anil Manna, a local trader.



GIS mapping of CCTV cams helps police crack Survey Park theft


Kolkata: Kolkata Police has used its recently acquired tool — GIS-based mapping software through which it gets to know the exact locations of all CCTV cameras, including the private ones, in the city — to solve a theft case in the Survey Park area adjoining Jadavpur. According to a source, the east division police stations have completed mapping all CCTV cameras of the area last year and it was the footage from a private source that helped them nab one “Lyangra Gautam”, who had committed the theft at a residence in Friends Row on July 20. “The theft was committed between 4.45pm and 6pm and Rs 8,500 in cash, ATM card, mobile phone and gold jewellery from the house of complainant Jayanti Bera were stolen. The accused had gained entry by breaking the rear door of the house,” said police. A team led by Survey Park OC Biswak Mukherjee was immediately formed. Luckily, both the complainant and her daughter could see the accused fleeing. “But during interrogation, they made contradictory statements regarding the description of the accused. To fix up the actual culprit, we searched the CCTVs of nearby places. We found a footage of the suspected person from a CCTV of a shop situated nearly 100 metres from the victims’ residence. While checking the video we found that the accused was a man who was limping on his right foot,” said an officer. “Immediately, we contacted OC (burglary) who gave a lead about “Lyangra Goutam”, who was last arrested in Bansdroni.


We then contacted OCs of Bansdroni and Panchasayar, where the accused lived, and nabbed Goutam. We have recovered the mobile phone, ATM card, some of the ornaments along with Rs 3,500 from the accused,” said a police source. Emboldened by the success it has received recently in solving crimes by analysing real-time CCTV footage, Kolkata Police had decided to integrate all CCTV cameras — both government and private — across the city. The idea was to ensure that every footage is analysed in depth and every CCTV of the city is mapped. While the project has already received success in areas like Posta, Park Street, Shakespeare Sarani and Bhowanipore, the cops are now concentrating on increasing surveillance in highly populated zones like Behala, Jadavpur, Survey Park, Haridevpur and Regent Park. “The perfect example of this co-ordination can be seen in the baby-lifting case at Medical College. We used footage from hospital, our own resources and those from Metro. We made the footage public and tracked the accused within hours,” said an officer.



International News



Man opens fire at cafes in Toronto, leaves 2 dead

People at the scene of a mass shooting in Toronto on Sunday.



Toronto: A man walking along a Toronto street fired a handgun into restaurants and cafes, killing two people and wounding 13 others before dying after an exchange of gunfire with police. Police chief Mark Saunders did not rule out terrorism as a motive in the attack on Sunday night in Toronto’s lively Greektown neighborhood, though officials did not immediately identify the assailant other than to say he was 29 years old and from Toronto. The mass shooting, just three months after the driver of a van plowed into pedestrians on a Toronto sidewalk, killing 10 people, shook the confidence of many in this normally safe city. “It’s almost inconceivable that these things can happen,” said mayor John Tory. “We were so used to living in a city where these things didn’t happen and as we saw them going on in the world around us (we) thought they couldn’t happen here.” “This is an attack against innocent families and our entire city”. The dead included a 10-year-old girl and an 18-year-old woman, Saunders told a news conference on Monday. The 13 wounded ranged in age from 10 to 59, and suffered injuries ranging from serious to minor, he said. He did not name the victims. A video taken by a witness showed a man dressed in black clothes and a black hat walking quickly and firing three shots from the sidewalk into at least one shop or restaurant in Toronto’s Greektown, a residential area crowded with Greek restaurants and cafes. Witnesses heard many shots and described the suspect walking past restaurants and cafes and patios on both sides of the street and firing into them.


Ontario’s police watchdog said there was an exchange of gunfire between the assailant and two officers on a side street but the gunman was found dead near Danforth Avenue where the shootings occurred. It was not immediately clear whether he killed himself or was killed by police. A spokeswoman for the special investigations unit, Monica Hudon, would not say whether the gunman was shot dead by police and said his identity was still being confirmed. She said an autopsy would be performed Tuesday. Toronto police spokeswoman Meaghan Gray said the victims included eight women and girls, and seven men. John Tulloch said he and his brother had just gotten out of their car when he heard about 20 to 30 gunshots. “We just ran. We saw people starting to run so we just ran”. Toronto Councilor Paula Fletcher told a city council meeting on Monday that the attack was “not gang related” and said the gunman was shooting “indiscriminately” into restaurants and into a park. Though mass shootings are rare in Canada’s largest city, Toronto police had deployed dozens of additional officers over the weekend to deal with a recent rise in gun violence in the city, which has seen 23 gun homicides so far this year, compared to 16 fatal shootings in the first half of 2017. “Why does anyone in this city need to have a gun at all?” Tory said at the council meeting. Ontario Premier Doug Ford said the confidence that Toronto is a safe city has been shaken. PM Justin Trudeau tweeted: “The people of Toronto are strong, resilient and brave — and we’ll be there to support you through this difficult time.



Fears mount in Pakistan over military influence in elections


Islamabad: The run-up to the Pakistan’s elections on July 25 has been blighted by violence and political controversy, generating the view among national and international spectators that the military establishment is supporting former cricketer Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf. Observers believe the Pakistan army has influenced the political landscape by denying level-playing field to the country’s mainstream political parties, particularly Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). The view is that the security establishment has facilitated the creation of new rightwing parties like Milli Muslim League (MML), headed by the mastermind of 2008 Mumbai carnage Hafiz Saeed, and Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), led by a firebrand cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi, to cut short PML-N’s votes in Punjab, the key battleground, which holds more than half of the 272 directly-elected seats in the Pakistan Parliament. Both TLP and MML have fielded candidates across the country to contest elections.


Observers allege the security establishment has pressured members of the PML-N in Punjab to switch political loyalties. Nearly 180 PML-N dissidents are contesting as independents solely with an aim to defeat PML-N candidates. “In recent years, the military has extended its influence to all institutions, including media. The civilian setup cannot do anything about it because the security establishment tactfully pursues its agenda without leaving behind any record,” said analyst Amir Jalil Bobra, adding that if one was looking for convincing proof of military meddling, they would not find anything. While the PML-N founder and former PM Nawaz Sharif has been jailed along with his daughter Maryam and son-in-law Muhammad Safdar in a corruption case, several of his party’s candidates for the polls have been disqualified on one pretext or another by courts. The PPP led by Asif Zardari, former president and widower of former slain PM Benazir Bhutto, and his son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, have lost much of their credibility through poor election campaigning due to high security threat alerts. On the other hand, Khan, considered to be a blue eyed guy of the military, has been carrying out election rallies across the country. He has centered his campaign on the promise to create a “new Pakistan” and has made fighting graft his party’s central pitch.

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