News Flash – 25 September 2018

National News



Rains kill 13 in North India, Manali cut off

378 HIMACHAL ROADS CLOSED: Keylong in Lahaul-Spiti saw heavy snowfall, forcing the govt. to keep schools and colleges shut.



Shimla: Heavy rains triggered flash floods and landslides across Himachal Pradesh, claiming seven lives and leaving three injured, even as hundreds of people were evacuated to safety and several houses and vehicles were washed away in the deluge on Monday. The death toll across north India was at least 13, with agencies reporting that a family of five was buried alive in a landslide in J&K’s Doda district while a 45-year-old man died in a roof collapse in Haryana’s Ambala district. Three people were swept away by flash floods in Kullu while two others stranded were airlifted to safety. A 50-yearold man, Kuldeep Chand Sharma, drowned in a water channel in Dharamshala while a seven-month old baby drowned after her mother fell in a water channel in Gulel village in Chamba. At Gagret in Una, manager of a juice factory died in a landslide. Heavy rain affected life in 10 of 12 districts of Himachal Pradesh. On Monday, 378 roads were closed due to landslides. Traffic along Kalka-Shimla highway was disrupted after a boulder hit a car whose occupants miraculously escaped unhurt. The tourist town of Manali has been cut off as traffic on Mandi-Manali highway remained suspended.



City’s prime TB hospital sees double-digit decline in deaths


Mumbai: The Sewri TB hospital, Asia’s largest and home to some of the most critical tuberculosis cases, has recorded a double-digit decline in deaths between January and August this year compared to the corresponding time last year. The positive news comes within days of the WHO Global TB report 2018 stating that deaths due to TB have dropped the world over. Compared to 2017 when 1,103 patients succumbed to the disease, the numbers declined to 938 till August in 2018. The 15% drop in the first eight months of the year has filled the authorities with optimism. The 1,200-bed Sewri hospital that records 6,000-7,000 admissions every year also records an average of 1,500 deaths annually, including that of drug-sensitive patients. Male patients constitute 67% of the casualties. The civic authorities have credited the dip to a slew of measures introduced in the hospital, including the improvisation of overall patient care, counselling, nutrition and other supportive facilities. “The numbers have given us the confidence that our efforts to tackle TB are in the right direction. However, a decline in death rates doesn’t necessarily mean all have defeated the disease. In many cases, we are afraid we have only bought them some extra time,” said Dr. Lalit Anande, the hospital’s medical superintendent. A death audit is among several measures introduced by the hospital to analyse why patients couldn’t be saved. A need for more ICU services with life support was felt. A decision was taken by BMC to open up the two-bed ICU facility exclusively kept to tackle any adverse effects arising out of bed aquiline usage.


“In addition, we started giving patients antioxidants along with their regular treatment medicines,” said Dr. Anande. The biggest challenge for the hospital is the bad lung condition of patients. By the time 80% of patients reach there, one or both lungs get completely damaged. “In patients with both lungs destroyed we have found an improvement in clinical parameters with antioxidants and vitamin supplements,” said Dr. Anande. While surgery is an option for many, a shortage of doctors often comes in the way. The hospital is running with a strength of just 13 against the sanctioned capacity of 38. Mumbai’s TB control officer Dr. Daksha Shah said a steady decline in TB deaths has been seen in the last few years. “The numbers have indeed been pointing towards a fall by 20-25% over the last years taken together. We believe early diagnosis, treatment and notification has contributed majorly,” she said. Mumbai, which notified around 25,000 cases now reports over 45,000. A public-private partnership has also aided in curtailing mortality rates and improving treatment adherence rates. TIMES VIEW: Considering that Mumbai has unofficially acquired the tag of being TB capital, it is heartening that a slew of measures introduced by the authorities are bearing fruit. The point is to improve processes further and push for bigger awareness campaigns so that diagnosis and treatment are timely and not too late.



Diphtheria toll 19; panel to give report in 3 days



New Delhi: After another death in a municipal hospital took the diphtheria toll in the city to 19, north corporation mayor Aadesh Gupta formed a committee to look into the matter and vowed strict action. The panel will submit its report in three days. The Maharishi Valmiki Infectious Diseases Hospital has seen a spike in cases this year: 147 patients were admitted between September 6 and 23. Of these, 122 were from UP, 14 from Delhi and 11 from Haryana. Last year, 550 children were admitted and about 100 deaths were reported. Gupta said: “We have formed a committee comprising administrative and health officials, who will probe the matter and find out why the hospital lacked in providing the medicines”. A senior health official in north corporation said the number of children admitted with diphtheria at MVID Hospital had gone up to 155. “All the admitted children are stable. We are striving to prevent further mortality,” the official said. He added more than 200 vials of anti-toxins had arrived. Diphtheria is an acute infectious disease for which preventive vaccination is available for free under the universal immunisation programme. But experts say certain communities don’t get their children vaccinated due to traditional beliefs. “Preventive vaccination is the only effective way to reduce diphtheria burden.


It affects the poor and they often delay approaching a qualified medical practitioner once the disease sets in,” a doctor said. Delhi Commission for Women chief Swati Maliwal, meanwhile, issued a notice to the medical superintendent of the hospital. She asked the hospital to provide details of the steps taken to ensure no more deaths happened apart besides demanding an increase in the number of staff and beds allotted for treating the patients. The notice stated that it had been reported that the children died because of unavailability of anti-diphtheria vaccine despite the hospital being a specialist centre for the disease. Diphtheria is caused by the bacterium Coryne bacterium diphtheria. It affects the throat and upper airways, which causes sore throat like symptoms and difficulty in breathing initially. If left untreated, the infection causes production of a toxin that can damage the body’s peripheral nerves and other important organs. The primary treatment of diphtheria involves administering an anti-toxin to reduce the damage being caused by toxins released due to the infection.



233 Dengue cases in a week, rain to blame



New Delhi: Incessant rain has led to a sudden spike in vector-borne diseases in the capital due to an increase in the number of mosquito breeding sites. In the past one week, 233 cases of dengue, 11 of chikungunya and 56 of malaria have been reported by the municipal corporations. In the preceding week, 106 cases of dengue had been reported. The total number of dengue cases till date is 832 and malaria 507. Out of the 233 cases of dengue, 100 were reported from Delhi while the remaining were from neighbouring states. Municipal officials, however, argue that a large chunk of these cases involves people who acquired the infection in other states and arrived in Delhi for treatment. Among the cases reported in Delhi, 26 were from areas falling under the three municipal corporations, 16 from New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) areas, six from Delhi Cantonment, one case from the jurisdiction of railways and 51 remained untraced. Out of the 56 cases of malaria, 31 were reported from Delhi while the remaining 25 were from outside the state. The public health department has also highlighted a sudden spike in positive mosquito breeding being discovered in houses by domestic breeding checkers. More than 17,000 such cases were found last week alone. Senior officials said that they have been regularly monitoring the major breeding grounds and notices have been issued to the violators. “A total of 1.8 lakh houses were found with breeding mosquitoes conditions this season. The three civic bodies issued 1.6 lakh legal notices for mosquito genic conditions and prosecutions were done in over 22,000 cases,” an official added.



Nine lakes overflow, houses flooded as rain lashes Bengaluru


Bengaluru: Heavy rain through Sunday night across Bengaluru sent nine lakes overflowing, flooding houses and apartment basements in their neighborhood. The rain was most intense in southwestern parts of the city. Hulimavu lake, Gottigere lake, Subbarayanakere, Kalena Agrahara lake, Basavanapura lake, Dorekere, Gubbalala lake, Vasanthapura lake and Doddakallasandra lake overflowed. Storm water drains leading to and from these water bodies were in spate. Several apartment basements off Bannerghatta Road and scores of houses in Kodichikkanahalli in Hulimvavu were flooded, sending cars and two-wheelers floating. Traffic jams were the order of the day for most of the morning hours, especially on Mysuru Road and Silk Board junction. Though the waters receded and fire brigade and civic workers pumped out water from houses, rain returned on Monday night, raising fears of nightmare. The basement of Kumbha Lakeshore Apartment in Kodichikkanahalli, where waters receded in the afternoon, was flooded in the night, a resident said. A Mysuru-bound car plunged into a storm water drain in Nayandahalli, Mysuru Road, past 10 pm. Its occupants got out just in time.



Lakes overflow into basements, houses in Hulimavu, Gottigere


Bengaluru: Sunday’s night downpour resulted in lakes overflowing in South Bengaluru. Water from Hulimavu Lake flooded several houses in Kodichikkanahalli and Gottigere in South Bengaluru on Monday morning, and storm water drains were in spate, complicating matters for residents. Hulimavu and Gottigere lakes overflowed, sending water gushing into their neighborhood. Seven apartment complexes, 50 independent homes in Kodichikkanahalli, and Himagiri Meadows, a gated community in Gottigere, took the brunt of the rain havoc. “Our apartment basement is half submerged. Water entered our four-wheelers and we cannot even open their doors,” said a resident of Kumbha Lakeshore Apartment in Kodichikkanahalli. A storm water drain snaking next to the apartment and Hulimavu Lake nearby overflowed, heaping miseries on the apartment residents, after the retaining wall of the drain collapsed. “It started raining about 10:30pm Sunday, and we were looking outside our window when we saw water slowly rising on the road and filling up the parking area. By 12:30am, our car tires were submerged and we were really worried,” said another resident.


Frequent power cuts turned the night into an endless horror. There was no electricity supply till Monday noon. “We have been suffering this for three years. Every time it rains, water enters our apartments. BBMP officials come to inspect, discuss precautionary measures and forget about it when the monsoon ends,” said Deepashri NC, a homemaker. BBMP has built retaining walls near the storm water drain but hasn’t completed the work, which is the cause of the residents’ sufferings, she added. Arekere corporator Bhagya Lakshmi Murali visited the affected areas and blamed the BBMP mayor and the commissioner for not considering her ward as important. “I have written numerous letters, requesting BBMP officials to release funds so that we can manage the ward better, they have never done it,” said Murali. The retaining wall of the drain crashed due to rain, showing the poor quality of work by BBMP, she claimed.



Tryst with Metro history as 2nd longest corridor opens


Hyderabad: Hyderabad Metro became the second biggest rail network in India, after Delhi Metro as Governor ESL Narasimhan flagged off a Metro train from Ameerpet Interchange station towards LB Nagar on Monday. Authorities ran 71 trips between Ameerpet and LB Nagar and vice versa on Monday. Commercial operations of the stretch were kicked off at 6pm, hours after inauguration and last train left the stations at 10:30pm. From Tuesday, 270 trips will be run on this stretch, according to HMRL managing director NVS Reddy. With inauguration of the 16km Ameerpet-LB Nagar stretch, the entire Corridor I (Red Line) of the project which runs a total length of 29km, comprising of 27 stations between Miyapur and LB Nagar, has now been completed. The operational 30km Metro rail corridor between Miyapur and Nagole was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November 2017. With Ameerpet-LB Nagar stretch now open, 46km of Metro is currently operational. The newly inaugurated stretch comprises of 16 stations and is expected to reduce the traffic volume on roads. At the inauguration, MA&UD minister KTR said, “With 46 kilometres now operational, Hyderabad Metro has become second largest Metro rail network in India and the first such project carried out in PPP mode, with the central and state governments and the concessionaire as partners. While nearly Rs. 3,000 crores have been spent by the state government, L&T invested over Rs. 12,000 crores. The Centre also gave close to Rs. 1,458 crores. The entire work has been estimated to cost Rs. 14,132 crores”. KTR added that electric vehicle charging stations would also come up soon at Metro stations. “While over one lakh passengers are travelling on the operational stretch, the ridership will double with this new stretch,” he said.



Dengue off to fatal run in south Kolkata danger zone


Kolkata: It took the death of a 21-year-old girl for the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) to go hard at dengue in Lotus Park, an area close to the Bijoygarh-Golf Green-Baghajatin belt where dengue had wreaked havoc last year. After Mou Mukherjee died of dengue at MR Bangur Hospital on Saturday, the KMC vector-control team from Borough X conducted this season’s first major anti-dengue drive at Lotus Park on Sunday morning. On Monday morning, a separate civic team went to Lotus Park and found an abandoned plot — littered with garbage — that has become a potential breeding ground for Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. The civic workers pasted a poster on the adjacent wall of the plot, asking the owner to clean the area, after they failed to find him. “I have not seen any kind of preventive activities in our locality on part of the KMC health department for past several months. Had they become active earlier, I would not have lost my only daughter,” rued Tarak Mukherjee, Mou’s father. Rathin De, a neighbour, said he was shaken to watch a girl of that age succumb to dengue helplessly, without giving the scope for proper treatment. “I am really worried over the return of dengue in the locality. Last year, dengue mayhem continued till early November and now with several residents suffering from fever, we are keeping our fingers crossed,” De, a resident of Lotus Park, said. Staying closer to Lotus Park, Sudipa Sen, a resident of Pallisree, recalled how a 10-year old boy, a Class V student of South Point, had died of dengue last year.


“Going by the loss of lives caused by the dreaded disease in the Bijoygarh-Baghajatin belt, the civic body should have been proactive in its fight against dengue,” Sen said. Sources in the KMC health department (Borough X) conceded that the dengue situation in Bijoygarh-Golf Green-Baghajatin was under scanner. Memories of last year are also stalking resident of the KIT housing complex close to Ballygunge railway station. Last year, 12-year-old Dwip and his father Siddhartha Ghosh died of dengue on the same day (September 7). Biva Ghosh, the only surviving member of the family, is yet to recover from the shock. Gopal Gharami, Dwip’s material uncle, expressed concern over the condition of the playground inside the housing complex. “Here, water is being allowed to stagnate. With at least six people suffering from fever in our complex and reports of people testing positive for dengue pouring in from the adjacent Uttarpara locality, we are keeping our fingers crossed,” he said. According to a KMC health department official, there were reasons for residents of Ballygunge-Kasba belt to feel insecure as dengue is poised to take a leap at this time of the year. Times View: Statistics may tell us that the dengue menace has not been so bad this year; and the numbers may tell us the right story. There has been more anti-dengue work on the ground in many neighborhoods this year after last years’ experience. But the recent deaths indicate that we may be entering that time of the year when dengue seems uncontrollable. Civic agencies, as well as people, should be on guard.



Punjab on red alert; schools, colleges shut



Chandigarh: Hit by incessant rain fury, the Punjab government on Monday ordered closure of all schools and colleges on Tuesday. Authorities also issued a red alert in view of the flood like situation, asking the Army to be ready to help deal with any eventuality. According to the meteorological department, Chandigarh, the region received 98.5mm rainfall between Sunday midnight and 5.30pm on Monday. With heavy showers lashing the region, Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh convened an emergency meeting of officials and announced a special girdawari for assessing crop damage due to the heavy rain over four days. Farm experts are fearing that the rain could result in damage to kharif crops and a dip in their yield, especially in the low-lying areas of the state. Punjab has set a target of 200 lakh metric tons of paddy output this season from 30 lakh hectares of area under sowing. Cotton is also at picking stage and rains have come as a blow for farmers. On Monday, the water level in Pong Dam was at 1,385ft against the maximum level of 1,390ft, the level at Bhakhra was at 1,655.5ft against a maximum capacity of 1,680ft.



688 children missing since 2016 yet to be traced in Tamil Nadu


Chennai: The Tamil Nadu police on Monday informed the Madras high court that 688 children who have been missing since 2016 are yet to be traced. “Out of 9,882 children who were reported missing between 2016 and August 31, 2018, the state police have traced 9,177 children and another 17 by the Anti-Child Trafficking Unit (ACTU). About 666 children are yet to be traced by the police and 22 by ACTU,” G Nagajothi, assistant inspector general of police, a staff officer of the DGP office said. The state made the submission following a plea moved by B Nirmal of Exnora International seeking a probe after two children from homeless families in the city went missing. When the plea came up for hearing, a division bench headed by Justice M Sathyanarayanan wondered whether the authorities had conducted any investigation in connection with unauthorised and unregistered children’s homes and orphanages functioning in the state. The bench then impleaded the director of social welfare department and directed it to file a report by October 25 on the number of unauthorised homes in the state and the action taken to check them.


According to a report filed by the police, from 2016 to August 31, 2018, 9,573 cases of missing children have been registered. Further, 4,409 cases had been filed for exploitation of children, and 874 cases for kidnapping or maiming a minor for begging and procuring of minor girls. “Among 4,409 cases of exploitation of children, 965 cases are under investigation, 1,887 are pending trial, 706 are not taken on file, 97 ended in conviction, 634 ended in acquittal and 120 were closed,” Nagajothi said. He further submitted that among 874 cases of kidnapping or maiming a minor for begging and procuration of minor girls, 234 are under investigation, 43 are pending trial, 53 are not taken on file, 2 ended in conviction, 10 ended in acquittal and 532 were closed. Pointing out that 43 ACTU teams were formed in 2017 as per the instructions of the high court, the officer submitted that the units are functioning effectively.



International News



Teen Rescued after Drifting 49 days at Sea

Aldi Novel Adilang, 18, ran out of food within a week and survived on fish and seawater he squeezed from his clothing.



Jakarta: An Indonesian teenager survived seven weeks adrift at sea after his tiny fishing trap lost its moorings and ended up some 2,500 kilometres away in waters near the Pacific island of Guam, his family said on Monday. Aldi Novel Adilang’s tale began in mid-July when the 18-year-old was working solo on a fishing hut anchored about 125km off Sulawesi island. His job was to keep the vessel’s lamps lit to attract fish. Its owner would reportedly come by weekly to drop off food, clean water, fuel and other supplies. The floating fishing trap, known as a rompong, had no engine and was anchored to the seabed with a long rope, but heavy winds knocked it off its moorings and sent Adilang out to sea, media said. “His boss told my husband that he went missing,” Adilang’s mother Net Kahiking said. “So we just surrendered to God and kept praying hard”. The teen survived by catching fish. After he ran out of the cooking gas, he burned the trap’s wooden fences to make a fire for cooking. About ten ships passed the teen before a Panamanian-flagged vessel rescued him on August 31 near Guam and brought him to Japan. He arrived back home on September 8 in good health. “He will be 19 on September 30 — we’re going to celebrate,” Kahiking said.

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