9 die in Gujarat floods, toll 83; PM announces Rs 500 crore aid
IAF men rescuing flood-hit people in Banskantha district of Gujarat.
AHMEDABAD/PALANPUR: The death toll in Gujarat floods reached 83 with nine more deaths reported on Tuesday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the state and announced a relief package of Rs 500 crore for the flood-affected districts. He also declared ex-gratia of Rs 2 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased, and Rs 50,000 to those seriously injured in the floods. Modi conducted an aerial survey of flood-ravaged areas of north Gujarat where the authorities have shifted more than 36,000 people to safety and rescued more than 1,600 with the help of Indian Army, Indian Air Force and the National Disaster Response Force personnel since Monday. The heavy inflow from Rajasthan, coupled with incessant rains since Friday, severely affected road and rail transport in the state. While at least 20 trains on the Mumbai-Delhi route were affected, with 11 of them cancelled due to railway tracks being washed off near Palanpur, 915 buses originating from Himmatnagar, Palanpur, Mehsana, Ahmedabad and Patan were cancelled as major roads connecting north Gujarat were either damaged or inundated. The overall loss to the transport sector is estimated to be over Rs 6 crore per day, while railways have been suffering a loss of Rs 5 crore. Two days after torrential rains wreaked havoc in Rajasthan, the death toll reached 12 with eight more people reported dead on Tuesday. Joint teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Indian Army, Indian Air Force (IAF) and state administration rescued at least 500 people by Tuesday evening. While two were reported dead in Jalore, three in Barmer and one in Sirohi districts, two died in Udaipur. Rescue work expedited with heavy rains subsiding. A family of nine – who had taken shelter on a treetop in Siyana village of Jalore – was rescued with the help of IAF choppers and NDRF divers and boats.
Odisha braces for floods: Odisha is also bracing for floods with three of the state’s major rivers flowing above the danger mark. Heavy rainfall is likely to pound several parts of the state due the low pressure area persisting over in the region. Authorities in Keonjhar, Bhadrak and Jajpur districts have stepped up their preparedness for rescue-and-relief operations while the situation in Balasore district is also being monitored. The weather improved in Bengal on Tuesday with no heavy rain in most parts since last night. However, low lying areas in Birbhum, Purulia, West Midnapore and Hooghly districts were still under water. Roads in state capital Kolkata continued to be waterlogged.
Flood situation in Assam improves: With most of the rivers in Assam flowing below the danger mark, the overall flood situation in the state saw a marked improvement today but the death toll rose to 77 after a person was reportedly washed away in Hojai. Currently, a population of 23,118 is still affected by this wave of floods in nine districts, according to the report of Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA).
Rain disrupts normal life in Jharkhand: Incessant rain disrupted normal life in several parts of Jharkhand with many rivers, including Damodar, Konar and Siwane, in spate. The district administrations of Ranchi, East Singhbhum, Hazaribagh, Bokaro and Giridih have declared a holiday on Wednesday for students up to class 8 in view of incessant rains, official sources said. In Bihar, light rainfall occurred at a few places in the northern part of the state, while heavy showers were witnessed at a few places in the south west, a MeT bulletin said. The national capital too witnessed scattered rains that brought down the mercury. The maximum temperature settled at 32.5 degrees Celsius, two notches below the season’s average. Dharamshala, which received 55 mm rainfall, was the wettest place in Himachal Pradesh, while moderate downpour was witnessed in several parts of the state.
Sena man held for ‘illegal’ repairs after Ghatkopar building crash kills 17
MUMBAI: 17 persons, including two babies, were crushed to death when their 35-year -old ground-plus-four-storey building in Ghatkopar collapsed around 10.45am on Tuesday. A dozen more were injured. Amid the shock and sorrow, survivors pointed fingers at the extensive repairs being carried out in a maternity home on the ground floor owned by Sunil Shitap, a local strongman linked to the Shiv Sena. Some said he had removed critical load-bearing pillars. Later in the evening, Shitap was detained after an FIR was filed against him by the residents. Visiting the site late on Tuesday, CM Devendra Fadnavis said he had ordered an inquiry and asked the BMC commissioner to submit a report in 15 days. “An offence has been registered and the police are investigating. We will not spare anyone found guilty,” Fadnavis added. The BMC too has ordered a probe. In 2009, the civic body had allowed change of use for the ground floor to be used as a nursing home, said assistant municipal commissioner Bhagyashree Kapse. A local resident who did not want to be named said Shitap was politically well connected and so people were afraid of confronting him. At 10.46am, a call went to the fire brigade that Siddhi Sai Cooperative Society near Shreyas Cinema on LBS Marg had crashed. Around 90 fire personnel, 14 fire engines and two rescue vans were rushed to the site. The building, which had three flats on every floor, had telescoped down and turned into a pile of rubble.
They managed to pull out at least three survivors from the debris. Almost 12 hours later, they were digging to free another person, believed to have survived as he was cocooned in a gap under a bedstead. Two families—the Khanchandani on the fourth floor and the Dongres—lost three members each. Another Khanchandani is in hospital. The family has only one survivor – a woman who had gone to work. Many were saved as they too had stepped out, for work or to go to school. The Ajmeras on the third floor proved very unlucky. They had bought a flat and were preparing to move, but the collapse claimed one of them. A carpenter who had arrived to receive payment from them too perished. Lalchand Ramchandani, 67, who lived on the fourth floor, was among those who had a close shave as he had left a few minutes before the crash for his workshop in Vikhroli (West). The fact that the nursing home on the ground floor was not in operation may have also saved several lives. Civic commissioner Ajoy Mehta instructed his officials to submit the inquiry report within 15 days. Most of the survivors blamed the extensive repairs and rearrangement in the ground floor for the collapse. “The owner of the ground floor property, which was earlier a nursing home, was carrying out extensive repairs. We had heard he had tampered with the pillars of the building to make his property more spacious,” said Pritesh Shah, who was one of those pulled out from the rubble.
Stolen phones taken apart, sold as spares
NEW DELHI: Every second mobile phone stolen from central Delhi, especially around ITO, gets dismantled and sold for spares in the grey markets of central, east and south Delhi. The rest are sold at half the price to foreigners and visitors looking for mobile phones at railway stations and ISBTs. This startling information came to the fore after a special team formed to crack down on snatching incidents around Delhi Police headquarters recovered 120 stolen phones in the past four months and arrested three people for the crime. The four-member team led by a sub-inspector was formed after police commissioner Amulya Patnaik ordered a crackdown on snatchings in high-security zones. A study by the team shows that most snatchings take place between 10am and noon and 1pm and 7pm. Around 95% of the victims were pedestrians holding their phones in their hand. The team is also mapping the nature of snatchings across the city. DCP (central) Mandeep Singh Randhawa, who has been monitoring the anti-snatching squad, said that incidents of snatching have now gone down considerably.
The team started with investigations into almost 2,000 stolen mobile phones in central Delhi. “The team was assigned the specific job of finding out whether any of the stolen mobile phones had come online. The user would then be tracked and raids would be conducted to recover the phones. We have busted many gangs operating in the area,” said Randhawa. Almost 50% of the stolen phones were recovered from markets in Seelampur and Usmanpur, followed by Nabi Karim and Karol Bagh. Recently, when police nabbed a youth for using a stolen mobile phone, they found that he had bought it from an e-commerce site after giving his phone in exchange. He also produced a bill given by the seller. On verification, the bill was found forged. The number from which the seller had contacted him was also switched off. The cops then posed as customers and asked the seller to meet them near Kamla Market after which he was arrested. The accused disclosed that he had taken the stolen mobile phone from his friend. He had sold several phones on the e-commerce site. Senior police officers said that snatchers have started changing their modus operandi after the crackdown. They agree that monitoring e-commerce websites are difficult and they will not be able to track a stolen phone until someone starts using it. The team has been asked to keep an open eye on popular e-commerce sites for clues.
Swine flu claims 10-yr-old in Thane
THANE: The pandemic-like swine flu situation in the state since the past few months has claimed yet another life in the lake city of Thane. A 10-year-old who tested positive on Saturday for the deadly fever passed away on Monday night in a private hospital. Aaryan Medhekar, a Class V student of St John the Baptist School in Thane, who was in good health till Thursday, suddenly developed a high temperature and began to shiver and complain of a severe stomach ache on Friday. “As the temperature refused to subside till Saturday, he was admitted to a private hospital in the neighbourhood. However, his blood platelet count began to deplete drastically and it touched around 80,000 mcl- which is almost half of the minimum required. After numerous tests, the boy was detected with swine flu,” said a relative. On Saturday, Medhekar was shifted to another private hospital, but his condition deteriorated further. He passed away around 8.30pm on Monday. Medhekar, a resident of Khopat, lived with his parents, grandparents and an older brother. His body was sent to a civil hospital for post-mortem early on Tuesday morning. His final rites were conducted thereafter.
A senior medical official from the health administration machinery said, “From January till date, as many as 320 patients have tested positive for swine flu in Thane’s urban pockets. A total of 17 deaths have been recorded. Last month alone saw 185 patients test positive for the deadly disease and there were 13 deaths. Health officers and private practitioners meet on a regular basis to analyze the new cases and discuss how the situation can be mitigated”. The minor’s death is particularly shocking since most swine flu fatalities are among middle-aged patients. Last month, a 50-year-old Mulund resident, who was under treatment in a private hospital for three weeks, passed away. A team of officials from National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had flown down from Delhi to take stock of the situation arising out of the sudden rise in swine flu and dengue fever cases. Medical officials have cautioned citizens to adopt precautionary measures against the virus, which can be passed on through sneezing or a handshake. This year, 285 have succumbed to H1N1 in Maharashtra.
4 held for online fraud; details of 16k bank accounts recovered
BENGALURU: Cybercrime sleuths from the Criminal Investigation Department have busted a marketing and phishing racket, and arrested four persons from Jharkhand. Details of 16,000 bank accounts and 460 Sim cards have been recovered from the quartet, which includes two siblings. The fraudsters allegedly hosted fake websites offering to sell products at deep discounts and pay high interest on deposits. They indulged in bottom phishing, where small sums are siphoned off from bank accounts of a large number of victims. “The accused hoped the victims would not approach police as the amounts they lost were small,” said MD Sharath, deputy superintendent of police. Kapil Dev Suman alias Ajai Singh, 26 and his brother Sushil Kumar Suman, 24, were arrested in Bengaluru; Sooraj Kumar, 25 and Biplav Kumar, 24 were picked up from Patna. All of them are residents of Bokaro Steel City in Jharkhand. Police suspect the involvement of more people in the scam, which they suspect was operational from 2015. Transactions show they had swindled at least Rs 15 lakh. Recently, a JP Nagar resident approached cybercrime police saying Rs 7,000 had been fraudulently transferred from his bank account. “Investigations revealed the accused had used an e-wallet to siphon off the money,” a police officer said. Investigation of the money trail soon led police to the accused, and two were picked up.
“The other two gave us a tough time. As communication from their arrested partners stopped, the duo sensed something amiss. They fled Bokaro before our team reached the spot. The team chased the duo who went to Ranchi, Bodh Gaya and Patna,” said Pratap Reddy, ADGP, CID. Police said the four accused are dropouts from a diploma college in Bengaluru and had worked in call centres before taking to crime. “They came to Bengaluru in 2012 and enrolled for a diploma in electronics. However, they couldn’t pass the exam,” a police officer said. In call centres, Kapil and Sooraj discovered they can siphon off cash from people’s bank accounts through fraudulent ways. They asked the other two to join them. “Sushil purchased more than 600 domain names with service providers and developed websites, where they offered massive discounts,” a police officer said. They used Sim cards to provide different numbers on the websites.
MODUS OPERANDI: The accused would post advertisements on Facebook and Google saying investors can get great benefits, including high interest on cash deposits. The ads would also offer flat 80% discount on products. “We accept cash investments between Rs 1,000 to Rs 1.8 lakh,” they declared on the websites. Customers who logged on to the portals were directed to enter their bank account details, which the gang members would steal to siphon off money, police said.
NUMBER OF VICTIMS NOT KNOWN: “The gang has been active since 2015. We need more time to find out the exact number of victims. The accused would spend lavishly on flight tickets and star hotels in cosmopolitan cities,” police said. The fake websites run by the accused include www.munafaperday.com, www.munafadaily.com, www.paymaza.com, www.futuretrade.biz and mudratrade.com, cops revealed.
Fire breaks out at Rabindra Sadan sub-station of Kolkata metro
A fire broke out at Rabindra Sadan sub-station of Kolkata metro at around 8:50pm on Tuesday.
KOLKATA: A fire in an electrical sub-station at Rabindra Station stalled the services for the rest of the evening between Central station and Tollygunge station on Tuesday leaving thousands of passengers stranded on the roads at peak traffic hour. Nobody was injured or trapped in any of the rakes even as Metro authorities used back-up power to ensure that all the trains left the stations on either sides of Rabindra Sadan. Firemen and Metro Rail engineers worked throughout the evening to resume the services but service between Central and Tollygunge could not be resumed. According to a spokesperson for Metro Rail, the smoke and sparks were first noticed at an electrical sub-station situated on the side of the JL Nehru Museum at Rabindra Sadan station. “Fifty per cent of the power supply was immediately withdrawn and the services were on with our engineers keeping a close watch. At 9pm we withdrew power from the third rail at four stations between Esplanade and Rabindra Sadan,” said the spokesperson. Metro authorities then suspended services between Central and Tollygunge keeping in mind the safety of the passengers.
“We are running truncated service between Central and Dum Dum and Tollygunge and Kavi Subhas. The service on the rest of the route will only be resumed after the fire department gives us the go-ahead,” said the spokesperson. Passengers rushing to catch the train home were taken unawares. “The platform at Esplanade was teeming with more than a thousand people who had no clue what had happened. The Metro authorities were announcing on the public address system that the services were suspended. It was late in the evening and there was no adequate transport on the surface to ferry so many people,’ said Saikat Ghosh, a banker who was returning home. According to a spokesperson of CESC, the fire broke out in the DC panel at the substation. “We have informed Metro rail authorities that we are ready for any kind of assistance in case they need any,” said the spokesperson.
IT Dept identifies over 40 cyber-junkies, alerts firms
HYDERABAD: The state government has been in consultation with a few IT firms whose employees were found to be indulging in narcotics. There are over four lakh employees working in the IT sector in the city and during the ongoing investigation so far the excise sleuths have identified about 40 techies who are into drugs. After the arrest of drug peddlers Calvin Mascrenhas, 29, Mohammed Abdul Wahed, 20, and his elder brother Mohammed Abdul Quddus, 29, on July 2, excise sleuths arrested 16 more persons for peddling and possession of drugs. During the interrogation of the 19 offenders and through the analysis of their cell phone data, the SIT sleuths of the excise department have identified about 40 software employees, over 100 school and college students and over a dozen film personalities as drug addicts. IT Dept identifies over 40 cyber-junkies, alerts firms.
65 college girls take ill, lizard found in hostel food
CHENNAI: A lizard in an idli served at a government women’s college hostel landed 65 students in the hospital late on Sunday night. Students of Quaid-e-Millath Government College for Women were rushed to two hospitals around midnight. They complained of uneasiness and nausea after having dinner in their hostel mess. While 48 of the students were taken to Government Royapettah Hospital (GRH), 17 were admitted to Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital. Dr. Anand Pratap, GRH resident medical officer (RMO), said four of them had diarrhoea. “The rest had just anxiety-induced nausea,” he said. All the students were sent back after being observed overnight. Doctors said shortly after a student found a lizard in an idli, many of the students consumed salt water with tamarind to fight off nausea. “This made some of them throw up and feel even more ill,” said Dr. A Elango, RMO of Government General Hospital. On Monday morning, two teams from the state food safety department and the health department of Greater Chennai Corporation inspected the hostel mess and collected samples for testing. “We have collected samples of the idli batter, water and sambhar,” said R Kathiravan, designated food safety officer for Chennai.
Geetha Rajan, principal of the college, said the students were sent back to their families on Monday. “The doctors advised them a week’s rest. We will also use the time to renovate the hostel mess,” she said. This isn’t the first time students in the college hostel have fallen ill after having food served to them. In October, 2015, 27 students from the institution sought medical help with complains of stomach ache and vomiting after having stale coconut rice from the mess. “Even at the time of inspection, the sanitary conditions in the kitchen were poor. It was infested with cockroaches,” said a member of the investigation team. This was vouched by a student, who did not wish to be named. “Students here keep falling ill on and off, but authorities notice only when a lot of us are sick,” said a second-year student. For food-related complaints WhatsApp – 9444042322.
US Navy ship fires warning shots at Iranian vessel
WASHINGTON: A US Navy ship fired warning shots toward an Iranian vessel near the northern Arabian Gulf on Tuesday after the vessel came within 150 yards (137 meters), a US official told Reuters. The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the USS Thunderbolt fired the warning shots after the Iranian vessel ignored radio calls and the ship’s whistle. The Thunderbolt was being accompanied by several U.S. Coast Guard vessels. The Iranian vessel appeared to be from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the official added. Years of mutual animosity had eased when Washington lifted sanctions on Tehran last year as part of a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions. But serious differences remain over Iran’s ballistic missile program and conflicts in Syria and Iraq. U.S. President Donald Trump‘s administration recently declared that Iran was complying with its nuclear agreement with world powers, but warned that Tehran was not following the spirit of the accord and that Washington would look for ways to strengthen it. During the presidential campaign last September, Trump vowed that any Iranian vessels that harasses the U.S. Navy in the Gulf would be “shot out of the water”. Similar incidents happen occasionally, the last in January when a U.S. Navy destroyer fired three warning shots at four Iranian fast-attack vessels near the Strait of Hormuz after they closed in at high speed and disregarded repeated requests to slow down.
Vatican turns off fountains as Rome gasps in drought
VATICAN CITY: Vatican authorities began on Monday to turn off some 100 fountains, including two Baroque masterpieces in St. Peter’s Square, due to a prolonged drought affecting the tiny city state and the city of Rome which surrounds it. Suffocating summer heat has followed two years of lower-than-average rainfall in Rome, forcing the Italian capital to close drinking fountains and consider the prospect of water rationing. Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said it was the first time authorities in the spiritual home of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics could remember being forced to turn off the fountains. Standing in St. Peter’s Square, where two fountains by 17th-century sculptors Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini stood dry, Burke said the Vatican wanted to help. “This is the Vatican’s way of living solidarity with Rome, trying to help Rome get through this crisis,” he told Reuters TV. All 100 Vatican fountains will be turned off gradually over the coming days. Rome is gasping after 72 per cent less rain than normal fell in July, according to Sky Italia’s weather TV channel. There was 74 per cent less than normal in June, and a 56 per cent reduction from the long-term average across March, April and May. Caring for the planet and its resources is an important issue for Pope Francis, who demanded swift action by world leaders in the first ever papal document dedicated to the environment. “This decision is very much in line with the pope’s thinking on ecology: you can’t waste and sometimes you have to be willing to make a sacrifice,” Burke said.