News Flash – 25 June 2018

National News



Monsoon on move, may hit north India this weekend


NEW DELHI: The monsoon marched into more parts of central India on Sunday, registering movement for the second consecutive day after it had remained stalled for 11 days. Met officials expect the advance to continue, with the rain-bearing system now looking likely to cover parts of north India, including Delhi, by June 29 to July 1. As a precursor to the real thing, pre-monsoon showers are expected in north India from Tuesday or Wednesday, which could be quite widespread. The monsoon entered southern Madhya Pradesh on Sunday while pushing further into Maharashtra and Gujarat, a state it entered the previous day. The India Meteorological Department said the advance in central India, as well as in the east, is expected to continue in the next two days. The system had remained stalled since June 12 for an unusually long period of 11 days due to unfavourable conditions in the Indian Ocean, from where the rain-laden winds originate. This has resulted in a countrywide rainfall deficit of 11%. “We expect good rainfall in the next few days that will hopefully wipe out much of the deficit by the end of this month,” said M Mohapatra, additional director-general, IMD. The monsoon is still in its advancing stage, during which it moves north and westwards into the India subcontinent in spurts, covering the entire country normally by the middle of July.


IMD expects a good monsoon in the crucial sowing month of July, during which it has forecast 101% rainfall (1 percentage point higher than normal) while the forecast for the entire June-September period is 97%, on the lower end of the normal range. The normal date for the monsoon to arrive in Delhi is June 29. “Conditions at the moment suggest the monsoon will arrive on time in north India, give or take one or two days,” said B P Yadav from IMD’s Regional Meteorological Centre. However, there are now growing fears of an El Nino forming during the last month of the monsoon season which could subdue rains during September. Most international weather agencies have now put out an “El Nino watch” alert in view of continued warming in the Pacific. El Nino is an abnormal warming of ocean waters in the east equatorial region of the Pacific, which often suppresses the southwest monsoon. “There’s a good chance of El Nino forming this year. The higher uncertainty is about when it will set in. If it forms after September, the monsoon may not get impacted. If it happens earlier, we could see subdued rainfall in September. But that too will depend on other local factors,” said D Sivananda Pai, IMD’s lead monsoon forecaster. The uncertainty over conditions during the second half of the monsoon season was one reason why IMD had pegged rains in August at 6% below normal in its updated monsoon forecast released earlier on May 30.



Mumbai suburbs see heavy rain, flight arrivals hit

The IMD Santacruz obeservatory recorded 94.7mm rainfall between 8.30am and 8.30pm.



MUMBAI: Several parts of the suburbs witnessed heavy rain on Sunday, with Malad receiving maximum rainfall (110.8mm), followed by Powai (78mm). The heavy showers affected flight operations and suburban train services in the afternoon. While the IMD Santacruz observatory recorded 94.7mm rainfall between 8.30am and 8.30pm, the Colaba observatory recorded 16.6mm. In contrast, the Santacruz observatory had recorded just 31.7mm rainfall and the Colaba observatory 151mm from 8.30am-8.30am between June 23-24. IMD’s forecast for Monday is intermittent rains in the city and suburbs with heavy to very heavy rainfall at one or two places. The heavy rain affected arrival of flights at Mumbai airport on Sunday afternoon. The main runway was closed for flight operations for about 30 minutes, during which four go-arounds were carried out. “The main runway was non-operational from 3.43pm to 4.17pm for maintenance,” said an MIAL spokesperson. Flight operations were moved to secondary runway during this period. Railway commuters were inconvenienced due to the rain and mega blocks on both Central Railway and Western Railway as services were delayed by 15-20 minutes. Ajay Kumar, scientist from IMD Mumbai, said the weekend’s heavy showers were due to a cyclonic circulation over the north Konkan and adjoining south Gujarat and another circulation in the Bay of Bengal. “We expect rain activity to increase in the coming week, with scattered heavy to very heavy rain on June 27-28 in parts of north Konkan, including Mumbai,” he said.



Fire breaks out at another Mumbai building, 1 dead

This is the third building in south Mumbai to have caught fire this month.



MUMBAI: One person was killed in a fire that broke out in a three-storey building at Charni Road on Sunday evening. This is the third building in south Mumbai to have caught fire this month. According to officials from VP Road police in Girgaum, the deceased has been identified as Khabir Alam (28). Locals said that Kothari House, located on Raja Ram Mohan Rai Marg, near Central Plaza cinema, was only partially occupied with Ronak Global Academy pre-school operating on the second-floor of the building. As it was a Sunday, the school was closed and a bigger tragedy was averted. A relative of the pre-school’s owner rushed to the spot on hearing of the fire. She said the school was opened only six months ago. After the fire broke out at 6pm, eight fire engines, six jumbo water tankers and one ambulance were rushed to the spot. Fire officials said that by the time they reached the spot, the fire had spread. The adjacent building houses a restaurant and when TOI reached the spot, several workers from the eatery were seen removing cylinders kept on their premises. It took fire-fighters almost four hours to control the blaze. Chief fire officer PS Rahangdale said the fire was confined to electric wiring and installations, false ceiling, books, stationary, plastic chairs, wooden stairs and attic wooden roofing. “One person was found unconscious on the third floor at 7.45pm and was rescued by the firemen. He was sent to a hospital where he was declared dead before arrival,” he said. A local, Ketan Vakharia, said that he heard a loud blast that was followed by the blaze. “When we inquired with a few locals, we were informed that a few carpenters were working in the building when the fire started,” he said.



15 killed as tractor-trolley falls into canal in Yadadri

The ill-fated tractor-trolley in Nandanam village on Sunday.



HYDERABAD: In yet another road accident in the state, 15 people — 14 women, all farmhands, and a three-year-old boy — died, 10 suffered injuries and three escaped unhurt after a tractor-trolley in which they were travelling fell into a canal of the river Musi at Nandanam village in Yadadri district on Sunday morning. The tractor driver reportedly tried to light a cigarette, but lost control over the vehicle. However, police are yet to ascertain the cause of the accident. Around 10.30am, 28 people were travelling in a tractor trolley to reach a cotton farm at Nandanam. As the tractor trolley was plying on the bund, the driver, Venkat Narayana, lost control over the vehicle and it fell into the roadside canal. The trolley got detached, overturned and trapped some of its occupants, Rachakonda police said. “There were no injuries on the bodies of the victims. They died due to suffocation,” Rachakonda joint commissioner of police Sudheer Babu said. Venkat Narayana, who was among the three persons who escaped unhurt, went absconding after the accident, police said. Earlier in the day, he engaged 27 women, mostly in the 25-30 age group, in Valigonda to work at his farm to sow cotton seeds. They got into his tractor-trolley to reach Nandanam, but tragedy struck them just a minute away from the farm, police added.


Locals alerted Valigonda police, who reached the accident spot after 20 minutes, but it took some time for local revenue officials to shift the injured to hospital. Fourteen persons, including the three-year-old boy, died on the spot, while a victim died while undergoing treatment. Two victims were from Kurnool district in AP, while the rest were from Valigonda. On April 6, nine women died in a similar accident after their tractor fell into AMR Canal in Nalgonda. CM K Chandrasekhar Rao expressed shock over the accident and directed officials to provide medical care for the injured. “Chief minister KCR expressed deep shock over the ghastly incident at Nandanam village. The CM conveyed his condolences to the families of the victims and directed officials to provide better medical care for the injured,” the CM’s office said in a communication. The district authorities have announced ex gratia besides giving other assurances. Forensics experts performed post-mortem exam at a nearby health centre. Sudheer Babu said a case was registered against driver under IPC Section 304 (ii) (culpable homicide not amounting to murder).



First spell of rain causes water logging, traffic snarls

In all, the city received an average of 22.07 millimetres (mm) of rainfall.



AHMEDABAD: The rain-heavy dark clouds kept their promise on Sunday morning at 5am and drenched the city in its first spell. In all, the city received an average of 22.07 millimetres (mm) of rainfall as per Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) rain gauges. AMC flood rescue lines kept ringing for four hours with complaints of waterlogging, road damage, and a few accidents. During early morning hours, a BRTS bus skidded off the corridor and hit a CCTV pole, which caused a road block. The fire services were called in to free the obstruction. The south zone of the city received the maximum rainfall of 47 mm, followed by the Walled City of Ahmedabad which received 22mm rainfall. Areas like Amraiwadi, Gujarat housing society, around Hatkeshwar circle, areas near CTM crossroads saw waterlogging.


Roads showed the first signs of wear and tear, quite visible in Saraspur, where the stretch between Shardaben circle and Ambedkar Chowk were pitted with potholes. “The roads were laid in May after a water line was laid,” says a local Alpesh Patel. In the west zone there were at least three complaints registered for minor road damage. At Vastral lake, labourers engaged in repairs of embankments had a narrow escape when a large portion of the embankment sank leaving one labourer injured. From the central zone, the AMC received three complaints of dangerous buildings. In Indrapuri ward along the Kharicut canal a local drain began spewing industrial effluent. Locals immediately got together and temporarily constructed a small bund around it to divert the industrial waters towards the canal. There were 16 complaints of tree falls and 35 complaints related to waterlogging from across the city.



International News



Second person dead, 30 arrested, after Saturday’s grenade attack at Ethiopia prime minister’s rally

Ethiopian security forces intervene on Meskel Square in Addis Ababa where a blast killed several people during PM’s rally.



ADDIS ABABA: Thirty people have now been arrested over alleged involvement in a grenade attack that killed two people at a rally in the Ethiopian capital attended by new prime minister Abiy Ahmed, police said on Sunday. More than 150 were wounded in Saturday’s attack, which took place moments after Abiy had finished a speech in Meskel Square in the centre of Addis Ababa. The rally, attended by tens of thousands, was in support of Abiy’s push for radical political and economic reforms, including a peace deal with regional arch-enemy Eritrea. Security officials have not said publicly who might be responsible for the attack. Health Minister Amir Aman said on Twitter that as of 2.30pm local time on Sunday, two people had died and there were 156 wounded, with six in critical condition. “I’m so sorry to learn that we have lost another Ethiopian victim of yesterday’s attack,” he said. Nine police officials, including the deputy head of Addis Ababa’s police commission, have been arrested for what authorities said were security lapses. “The number of suspects in custody for involvement in the attack in Meskel Square has now reached 30,” Zeinu Jemal, head of the Federal Police Commission, told the state-owned Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation. Zeinu did not give further details.



86 killed in fresh herder-farmer violence in Nigeria



JOS, NIGERIA: Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday called for calm after 86 people were killed in an attack by suspected nomadic herders against farming communities in the restive centre of the country. The grim discovery in the Barikin Ladi area of Plateau state came after days of violence apparently sparked by an attack by ethnic Berom farmers on Fulani herders on Thursday. State police commissioner Undie Adie said a search of Berom villages in the area following clashes on Saturday found “86 persons altogether were killed”. Adie told reporters six people were also injured and 50 houses were razed. Bodies of those who died have been released to their families, he added. The deaths are the latest in a long-running battle for land and resources that is putting President Muhammadu Buhari under pressure as elections approach next year. The violence fueled by ethnic, religious and political allegiances has killed thousands over several decades. Analysts believe it could become Nigeria’s biggest security concern, eclipsing Boko Haram‘s Islamist insurgency that has left at least 20,000 dead since 2009. Buhari’s office said he “appeals for calm and assures that no efforts will be spared” to bring those responsible to justice and prevent further attacks. “The grievous loss of lives and property arising from the killings in Plateau today is painful and regrettable,” he added. The Plateau state government said it had imposed restrictions on movements in the Riyom, Barikin Ladi and Jos South areas “to avert a breakdown of law and order”. “The curfew takes effect immediately… and movement is restricted from 6:00 pm (1700 GMT) to 6:00 am, except (for) those on essential duties,” spokesman Rufus Bature said.


On Sunday, ethnic Berom youths set up barricades on the Jos-Abuja highway and attacked motorists who looked “Fulani and Muslim”, according to those who escaped the violence. Plateau state police spokesman Tyopev Terna and Major Adam Umar, from the military taskforce in the state capital, Jos, confirmed the blockade and vandalism to several cars. There were no official reports of deaths but Baba Bala, who escaped the violence on the road, said at least six people were killed. “I escaped with a smashed windscreen and dents on my car. I saw six dead bodies and several damaged cars,” he added. Plateau state governor Simon Lalong promised that “operational plans are currently being put in place to secure the affected communities and fish out perpetrators of these crimes. “While we pray for God’s guidance through this difficult time, we will do everything humanly possible to secure our state immediately”. But the violence in Plateau followed a pattern that has become familiar in the state and elsewhere and which the authorities appear unable to stop. On Thursday, Berom farmers attacked five ethnic Fulani herders travelling with their cattle in a truck at Heipang, in Barikin Ladi. On Friday, two Berom children were killed in Arangai and Mangu Halle villages in what appeared to be reprisal attacks. Police spokesman Terna said there were more reprisals on Berom villages in the Gashish area of Barikin Ladi which were “believed to have been carried out by Fulani herdsmen”. “This led to today’s violence,” he added.


Lawmakers earlier this month demanded that Buhari address worsening security across the country, accusing police of failing to prevent the violence. On Sunday, Senate leader Bukola Saraki said the killings gave the impression that Nigeria was “not safe”. It was “important for Nigerians to start having the assurances that the government is decisively responding to the current threat to lives and property”, he said. Separately, clashes erupted on Friday between Fulani herders and ethnic Bachama farmers in Dowayan village, in the Demsa area of Adamawa state, in northeast Nigeria. Adamawa police spokesman Othman Abubakar told AFP: “Six people were killed and seven others injured. “The violence started when Bachama farmers prevented Fulani herdsmen from grazing in a field outside the village. Clashes erupted as a result. “The Bachama mobilised and burnt some Fulani settlements and the Fulani went into Dowayan and burnt houses”. Demsa and the nearby Numan area of Adamawa were the scene of deadly clashes between herders and farmers that left scores dead last December. Buhari has been accused of failing to act as he is also Muslim and Fulani. His government has proposed setting up cattle ranches to prevent tensions over grazing land.



California wildfire burns 12 buildings, threatens hundreds

A firefighter walks near a flaming house in Santa Rosa, California.



CLEARLAKE: A wind-driven wildfire destroyed a dozen buildings and threatened hundreds of others Sunday as it raced across dry brush in rural Northern California. The Pawnee Fire, which broke out Saturday near the small community of Clearlake Oaks, was one of four wildfires burning in largely rural areas as wind and heat gripped a swath of California from San Jose to the Oregon border. The blaze destroyed 12 buildings and threatened an additional 600 as it burned out of control across about 2.5 square miles (6.5 square kilometers). It is north of the wine country region where devastating wildfires killed 44 people and destroyed thousands of homes and businesses last October. Authorities ordered people to evacuate all homes in the residential area of Spring Valley and surrounding areas. Evacuation centers for residents and animals were being opened. No injuries were reported. “What we’re stressing is that people, when they get the evacuation order, they heed it immediately and get out and stay out until it is safe to return,” California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Battalion Chief Jonathan Cox said. “This is one of four large fires burning in Northern California. It’s a good reminder that fire season is upon us,” he said.


Another blaze consumed 5.5 square miles in nearby Tehama County but did not burn any buildings. Some homes were threatened and some had been evacuated, Cox said, although he did not have specific numbers. It was partially contained. Another smaller fire, also in Tehama County, was nearly halfway contained after consuming less than a mile of brush. The fourth fire, in neighboring Shasta County, smaller still, was three-fourths contained. The Pawnee Fire was being driven by erratic winds, low humidity and high temperatures. Firefighters battled it in a rugged area that made it difficult to get engines and other equipment up close. “It’s kind of the worst possible combination,” Cox said. Fire officials had no estimate on when it might be contained and didn’t yet know what caused it. Matthew Henderson, who was in the area taking photographs, said he saw the fire jump a road at one point, briefly cutting off access to part of Spring Valley until firefighters pushed it back. More than 230 firefighters using helicopters, bulldozers and other equipment were battling the blaze.



Floods and landslides kill seven, leave 12 missing in Vietnam

In this Sunday, June 24, 2018, photo, authorities clear mud from a landslide that blocked a road in Lai Chau province, Vietnam.



HANOI: Flash floods and landslides triggered by heavy rains have killed at least 7 people and left 12 others missing in northern Vietnam. In the worst hit province of Lai Chau, 5 people were killed and authorities have been mobilising forces to search for the 12 missing, the provincial government said in a statement today. The Vietnam Disaster Management Authority said in a statement that two people were killed in neighbouring Ha Giang province when their house collapsed. Landslides have interrupted traffic in some areas, it added. Heavy rains are forecast to continue in the region for the next two days. Floods and storms kill hundreds each year in the Southeast Asian country and cause millions of dollars in damages.

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